For our last date of the year, Date Night returns to the square in Decatur. It’s a rainy (full disclosure, Saturday) night in Georgia as we “kidnap” Date Night regulars Claudia and Randy in Smyrna and make the long drive to Decatur. Will Leon’s Full Service fill us up with hi-test food or will it be regular?
We always start our trips to Decatur with a visit to the Brick Store, which happens to own Leon’s as well. There is no better beer list in the city than the Brick Store, and they have some incredible Belgian holiday beers on tap tonight.
These are beers you can only get once a year, and this is probably the only place in the ATL that serves them. Included in our order is the Scaldis Noel, which at 12% is one of the most powerful beers you can get. Our waiter tells us that it’s a “12% beer that drinks like a 6% beer that kicks your butt like a bunch of 4% beers.” Agreed, and let me mention how wonderful and smooth this beer is considering its alcohol content. Eve gets the Gouden Carolus Noel, which has hints of black licorice. Claudia goes for the Kasteel Winter, a beer that smells like a cup of coffee. It has a strong coffee taste, which she really likes. We are always impressed with the glasses here, which somehow match the beer that goes in them.
We get an order of pretzels with our beer. Warm, soft, and salty, these are a good accompaniment to any beer at the Brick Store.
A short walk around the corner gets us to corporate sibling Leon’s, which was a gas station back in the day. They have added onto the building, but some of the gas station architecture can still be seen if you look really hard.
I’m driving tonight, so no more alcohol for me after that glass of 12% beer. The girls are intrigued by the egg nog drink special, only available during the holidays. Leon’s is known for their “mixologists”, who are said to make excellent drinks.
Now I will admit this egg nog, featuring rum, cognac, maple and nutmeg could be some of the best I have ever had. It’s $10 and you don’t even get four ounces of egg nog. This may not be an efficient way to spend your dining dollars. Perhaps the real talent of mixologists is not behind the bar. It might be their ability to charge so much money for so little product.
There are snacks, small plate, main courses and sandwiches on the menu. We all order from different areas of the menu.
Randy gets a burger, which he says is very good. The fries at Leon’s are excellent. Make sure you get some as a side when you go.
Eve gets the brisket sandwich, served open faced on top of a piece of robust bread. That’s a large pile of fried onions on the top. It is very similar to what I order, which was probably an error on our part since we share both meals.
I get the short ribs, which are a little dry. They are served over parsnips with red sauerkraut and apple butter, which was my favorite part of the dish. At $23, the short ribs cost almost twice what the brisket sandwich goes for, and the brisket is better.
The best thing I eat tonight is a couple of the mussels from Claudia’s plate. This is a huge order, even though it’s under the small plates section of the menu. She gets a side of Brussels sprouts hash, which has bacon in with the sprouts. It’s a nice side with the shellfish.
We are pretty full, but since can get a dessert and split it four ways, we do.
The Chocolate Nutella Candy Bar is made with the hazelnut spread and has hazelnuts in it as well. There’s sea salt too, which gives you a bit of saltiness with the sweetness of the Nutella.
Our servers at both places do a fine job tonight. They know the menu and they have enthusiasm for their profession, which is always nice to see. Leon’s has filled our tanks with premium food at the full service pump.
The Bottom Line on Leon’s: We enjoyed our visit to Leon’s, but in our opinion, it’s upstaged by the Brick Store, which has a better, less-expensive menu and the best beer list in town. If you go to Leon’s, avoid the main courses and order the small plates or sandwiches as you get a lot of food for much less money. The Brick Store remains our favorite place in Decatur, but we had a fun night at Leon’s sharing good food with good friends. What a fine way to spend our last Date Night of 2013.
Happy New Year to our readers and we look forward to sharing more adventures with you in 2014!