During a rare visit from my friend AD who lives in Myanmar, we met her former coworker KS at Leon’s Full Service. Arriving first, AD and I settled into a red vinyl booth at this Decatur hot spot that once was a gas station occupying a prime corner of the historic downtown district.
Its rustic decor in shades of steel blue and brown, plus a few vintage touches, makes the atmosphere cozy and relaxed. The restaurant’s bar program includes an impressive list of seasonal cocktails in addition to all of the classics. I reluctantly chose Mercury Retrograde, a worrisome name for a delicious drink made with gin, Creme de Violette, Kina L’Avion d’Or (a citrusy, woodsy aperitif), honey-lavender soda, and bitters. Not understanding my hesitation, I gave the server a brief tutorial on the astrological significance of the cocktail’s name.
When KS arrived we chatted about her very recent wedding, which included surprisingly little drama, and AD’s travels around the world, an adventure rife with drama, realizing that five years is too much ground to cover in three hours. I offered KS a taste of my cocktail and she ordered one as well.
We finally got around to ordering food starting with an appetizer special of fried avocado wedges, orange, and cilantro, plated on a pool of red chile remoulade. Although I enjoyed the warm avocado and cilantro, the combination of ingredients failed to create a cohesive dish.
An order of mussels steamed in a witbier and lemongrass broth came next. KS added the optional frites with two of many dipping sauces offered, the garlic aioli and goat cheese fondue. I enjoyed the mussels and subtly flavored broth served in a pot with crusty hunks of bread for dipping, however, I found the skin-on fries to be disappointingly flaccid. We had a hard time distinguishing the sauces from one another, neither displaying a definitive goat cheese or garlic flavor.
AD wasn’t feeling great, the lingering effects of her 45 hour journey to the U.S. and the resulting jetlag, so she was drinking ginger ale. However, KS and I ordered another round of cocktails. This time I tried the unpronounceable Ecopoiesis, a concoction of more unpronounceable ingredients that wasn’t nearly as tasty as Mercury Retrograde.
Although our hunger had subsided, I was still intent on ordering an entree special, the gruyere mac ‘n’ cheese with seared pork belly and radicchio. Sadly, but perhaps luckily, the dish was sold out so we chose the smaller pork belly appetizer. A cast iron dish of creamy grits flavored with mild kimchi contained three succulent chunks of soy glazed pork belly complemented by a crunchy cabbage salad sprinkled with sesame seeds. The dish was texturally pleasing and substantial for its $9 pricetag.
Briefly considering dessert, our hopes were dashed when we were informed our selection, the carrot bread pudding, was sold out. We shared a calorie-free Parliament instead as we said our farewells, vowing to reunite before another five years pass by.
131 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue 404-687-0500