While I was looking through the slide show of the current top 50 bars in the U.S., not so surprisingly I had been to one of them. Living in Knoxville doesn’t always lend itself to superior watering holes, however it is getting better. The one I had been to was The Patterson House in Nashville, a cool little speakeasy that’s well hidden. More about Knoxville, and The Patterson House some other time.
There were a couple on the list though in Atlanta, so I decided to check another establishment off the list of places I’ve been. This past weekend I made my way to Leon’s Full Service just outside of Atlanta in Decatur. They don’t take reservations, however on a Saturday night the wait was only about 20 minutes.
The bar is first come first serve and it was packed. We did manage to find a couple empty stools while we waited for our table. I ordered a couple of the evening’s special cocktail, a mix of bourbon, citrus and absinthe. It was good however the absinthe gave the bourbon too much of a Sazerac type flavor.
The hostess (wish I remembered her name) suggested a different drink, the “Kentucky breakfast” (espresso infused Elijah Craig 12 yr. bourbon, imperial stout syrup, angostura bitters, house orange bitters). Smokey, with a bit of a spicy finish from the bitters.
The service at Leon’s is worth mentioning, it was great. The hostess was awesome, the bartenders were attentive, and our waitress was very helpful. The rest of the staff was spot on picking up glasses, plates, refilling our water, etc… The staff is either extremely well-trained, or the people they hire actually care about their jobs, or both.
Dinner was great, my only complaint was that they have a cheese board and a charcuterie plate, but it’s not mixed together. The waitress explained that the charcuterie chef was trying to be taken more seriously, which I may have laughed at, but I do respect. But really, meat and cheese go together like cake and milk!
Since they wouldn’t bring us meat and cheese we decided to go with the “hummus” (beet & cashew, grilled pita, feta, zahtar oil, pickle). We ordered the “earth” (a seared “veggieloaf”, roasted cauliflower-shitake-sundried tomato salad, pecan romesco) and the “pork” (grilled, all-natural pork chop, sorghum sweet potatoes, snap beans, smoked pecan butter). The waitress hooked us up with some cucumbers for the hummus, which was delicious. As strange as the word “veggieloaf” sounds, it was surprisingly good and the portion size was enormous. My pork chop was cooked perfectly to medium (I like any place that’s not afraid to burn my pork), and the sweet potato mash and snap beans were equally tasty.
We had a couple more drinks, a classic Manhattan and a “ hounds-tooth” (high west double rye, bonal, krogstad aquavit, averna amaro, zirbenz pine liqueur) and enjoyed the evening. Had to save room for Yoforia so we didn’t do dessert, much to our waitress’s disappointment.
Nothing on the menu is over 20 bucks, and all the drinks run about 10 bucks (generous pours). Overall I would say if you get a chance to check out Leon’s full service – do it! Great drinks. Great food. Great atmosphere. ~cwall