Always there like a national monument, this crystal glitz-palace, where we 13-year olds drooled over the sham sumptuousness and the overwhelming quantity of dishes and desserts, which masked the quality.
An invite arrived and I accepted. It had been a long time since the last floats of ice swans and chopped liver Rodins were last seen, as my eating habits changed. What would Leonard's be like, with a new and experienced palate dipping nto the past?
The buffet had a miracle-mile spread of 10 hot and 10 cold dishes, all Italian!: prosciutto bread, bocconcini (using American milk: good texture but flavorless as they all are), tiny pizzas. But the hot side was smokin': TRIPE with chick peas (fantastic), decent chicken and mushrooms in wine sauce, a drinkable red Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, tortellini alla panna.
The dinner was an anticlimax: a tired but experienced preparation of chicken cutlets in wine-lemon sauce, with fine roasted potatoes and a cheesy soft broccoli.
The murderously loud disco music drove me outside, where I happened upon a Bukharan Jewish wedding. The music was remarkable and downstairs was another feast table, this time replete with every current pop star and traditional performer on CD and cassette. The vendor was one of the performers and had expert knowledge of styles.
I befriended some of the guests who invited me into the ceremony, but one couldn't stay for the food: perhaps special chefs are engaged for these kosher Uzbeki banquets. Only the lucky invited will know.
Thus, Leonard's has entered the age of Ethnic food with grace.