Joseph Leonard

By grace.g.yang ยท December 14, 2009
Under: Dinner,My Life,West Village

My friend, Azim, mentioned that he recently had a great dinner at Joseph Leonard, a new and trendy restaurant near our office. I’ve read a lot about Joseph Leonard, especially for brunch, and finally decided to go try their food (Azim warned me that since they don’t take reservations, getting a seat at the small restaurant can take up to 2 hours on busy nights). One night before Thanksgiving, I went to the restaurant and put my name down (thinking it would take two hours) HOWEVER, there was no wait and I could’ve been seated right away. Too bad my dining companion wasn’t going to be ready for another 2 hours. I couldn’t put my name down (no reservations = no putting names down if there are seats available) and the suggestion that I come back in 30 minutes to put my name down for dinner in two hours was just too much work. I couldn’t write off the restaurant since so many people raved about it, so I decided to try again on a Friday night – my plan: go to Fat Cat with my coworkers, run over to Joseph Leonard around 7pm, put my name down and expect at least an hour wait, and go back to Fat Cat until they called me with a table.

The plan worked! The wait was more like two hours, but definitely worth it – me and Lou after some light drinking at Fat Cat, ready to eat dinner:


The lighting is very dim in the restaurant with a candle at every table, and some awesome cornichons:


The waitress came by to tell us about the oysters for the day ($1.50/oyster is a pretty good deal in NYC). We went with 6 from Maine and 6 from Rhode Island:


I overheard the waitress say that before she started working at Joseph Leonard, she didn’t know that there was more than one type of oyster in the world. Luckily, she works at Joseph Leonard and she gets to try all the different types. The oysters from Maine were very plump and delicious – this was possibly the best bang for your buck at Joseph Leonard.

We asked our waitress about the dishes for two (Boeuf Bourguignon or Roasted Chicken for 2) and the waitress said that we COULDN’T order the Roasted Chicken for 2 because it takes an hour to prepare and we would’ve had to order it right when we walked into the restaurant. Well, that would’ve been nice information to know before we ordered!! We weren’t upset with going with the boeuf bourguignon, especially since we ended up with the last one (a couple seated next to us also wanted to order it but the waitress informed her that we had the last one).

For another appetizer, we ordered the salt cod brandade:


The brandade was served cold with curry oil and sweet pepper relish with crostini on the side. I suppose I was expecting a preparation similar to Balthazar’s, but it was packed into a small jar, very cold, and the curry oil totally threw off my familiarity with the dish. A good try, but not worth ordering.

Our waitress came by with a bread basket and offered us sourdough brioche or onion bread:


I asked for one of each, of course, and was told that I could only have one. I guess you can’t be greedy at Joseph Leonard because they will refuse your requests! This would never happen at per se. Both breads were decent, but the onion bread was nowhere near as delicious as Peter Luger’s.

For our main course, we ordered the Beouf Bourguignon:


The dish was short ribs, carrots, potatoes, pearl onions, egg noodle and cuisson. I wanted the dish because I had just finished watching Julie and Julia and Julie Powell makes Julia Childs’ version in the movie (I’ve never made it before, but it looks delicious in the movie). The short ribs were tender (the dish is pre-made since it needs to be cooked for quite a while) and the vegetables and egg noodles complemented the short ribs and wine very well but held their individual flavor. It’s quite expensive ($49 for a pretty small portion) but definitely worth it.

I had a very enjoyable meal at Joseph Leonard but would’ve liked to know more about the roast chicken rules (if you want it, you better order it WHEN YOU WALK IN) and I would’ve liked MORE BREAD! I’m definitely heading back on a Sunday – they bring in an entire pig and sell it in parts (the pig is drawn on a blackboard and when parts of the pig are sold out, it’s erased from the board) and I definitely want to try their brunch. The area Joseph Leonard is located in is nice enough that you could walk around while you waited for your table.

Joseph Leonard on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments

Too bad about the curry oil in the brandade – that would have thrown me off too – and there do seem to be a lot of rules at the restaurant. If only you could sit and order oysters at the bar while you waited – that seems like a good plan and a very good deal.

Written By Casey@Good. Food. Stories. on December 14th, 2009 @ 10:02 am

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