Joseph Leonard is a cozy West Village restaurant named for proprietor Gabriel Stulman's grandfathers. The restaurant does not accept reservations, so my friends and I were happy when we managed to snag one of the few tables during Friday's dinner rush. Unfortunately, our dining experience did not meet our expectations.
As a result of the Joseph Leonard's small size and growing popularity, there were quite a few people waiting to eat when we took our seats. Every inch of space at the bar was taken, and every table was filled. The number of people hovering by our table shooting us dagger eyes as we ate made for a rather uncomfortable experience. In addition, while the vintage decor (complete with candlelight atop tables made from thick slabs of distressed wood, plates from Gabriel Stulman's mother's garage, and mismatched flatware from area flea markets) is extremely inviting, the casual ambiance was overpowered by loud hip-hop music resonating from the restaurant's speakers (I am by no means complaining about the playlist- a few days ago I caught NOTORIOUS on HBO and I've been on a rap kick ever since- it just seemed out of place given the scene). I would be able to get past these minor issues (as well as the flighty waitress who mysteriously disappeared with our bottle of wine) had the food been solid. Sadly- this was not the case. I would describe our meal as average- nothing was extraordinary and nothing was overtly bad.
Our meal began with onion and sourdough rolls served from a wooden box
A $15 cheese board with 5 varieties of cheese, 4 slices of grilled bread and applesauce
The side of mushrooms came slathered with too much butter
I've been digging brussels sprouts lately, and I thought the heat from the sriracha was a nice addition
Roasted beets with golden goat cheese croquettes and olive toast
Duck rillette served in a jelly jar with grilled country bread and dijon mustard
The mussels with onions, fennel, garlic and white wine were nothing special and didn't come with enough broth, but the accompanying french fries were delicious. It made me smile when I noticed the bowl for discarded mussel shells is the same pattern I received from my grandmother after I moved into my first apartment - Pyrex for the ages
Joseph Leonard's signature dish- pork hock that has been braised and deep fried- was dry
The ricotta fritters over clover honey and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar were fine but by no means outstanding