Yesterday we had lunch at Leon's. Leon's is at the location where SO and I met eight years ago when it was the "Rusty Scupper". It was such a beautiful day I wanted to go where foremost, we would have a view. Had I thought of the taco trucks in time, we might have done that, though it was still slightly chilly for eating outside.
Leon's is a place SO goes to semi-frequently for business lunches. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Leon's that goes back to the day they opened. I just can't abide a upscale restaurant in a very prime location who can't get their shit together half the time and get everything right once in a while. Yesterday was no exception.
There were not many cars in the lot and the restaurant reflected this. There were two waiters for about ten tables that were occupied. We arrived about 12:30PM, not the earlier time the check has on it for "order started". Our ticket start time was wrong, but our final receipt time was correct. This may seem like an odd observation, but we weren't there two hours!
They had a $20 bottle of 2005 Silver Ridge Merlot as a special on the menu (not on the wine list), so we had that. We asked the mature and experienced waiter what he thought of it. Though it was pretty good it did not have much body, but was fruitier than I expected from our discussion. Not a bad $20 bottle of wine, but more like a Beaujelais than a Merlot.
We received a nice amount of warm, crusty, well-made bread to start off with and Parmesan cheese infused olive oil for dipping.
I had six blue point oysters and the veal kidneys with onions appetizer. I knew I was going to get some or half of SO's hamburger.
The oysters were fresh enough, but like Sage, a mile down the beach, they can't seem to get oysters to you without shell detritus. Sand crunch in clams is one thing, big chunks of oyster shell is another.
The kidneys were wonderful. There was a rich, natural brown gravy that coated the meat and sauteed onions. This was a simple dish, well prepared.
SO ordered the broccoli rabe burger, rare. This was topped with Provolone, and sauteed broccoli rabe. It was a delicious hamburger even if it was overcooked. We debated sending it back; it was so far from the rare she ordered,with almost invisible pink in the middle. It came with a large portion of wonderfully cooked large fries that were dusted with a Parmesan-parsley mix. We are finishing them today for lunch!
The food was good enough. The oysters were $3 each, the kidney appetizer a good value @ $8 and the burger and fries for $13. The bigger issue was the mediocre service from a experienced and polished waiter when there was very little business. Some delays can be attributed to the kitchen (which there were), but not clearing plates in a timely manner, never refilling our glasses and slowness in processing our bill are inexcusable.
Perhaps it's me, but it seemed noisy in this main dining room. On a slow, laid-back Saturday afternoon when the restaurant seems on autopilot, with very few patrons, you would think the restaurant would be rather quiet.
I would not let my criticism deter you from trying Leon's. You could have a good meal or a so-so meal. Probably you would have nothing to cry foul over or justify having a hissy fit. I am spoiled by the availability of top quality food and service in New Haven and wished Leon's was consistently better.
Leon's Restaurant of New Haven
501 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven, CT 06501