Joseph Leonard: A Salty Start


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Joseph Leonard is one of those restaurants that might have you thinking, “Recession? What recession?”

On the first night that the little West Village restaurant started serving dinner, it was so packed that finding a spot to perch for a drink was a challenge, much less a table for four. And this was well after 9 p.m. on a weeknight.

But this level of interest in a place so new it had a dessert menu to tempt diners but weren’t actually equipped to serve dessert yet is unsurprising.

New York food folks have been working themselves up into a big froth over Joseph Leonard, after all, since Gabriel Stulman, a former owner of the much-beloved Little Owl and Market Table in the West Village, announced he was opening a new restaurant. And, of course, it didn’t hurt that Vogue.com did a “People Are Talking About” item about the carefully planned grandma’s garage sale meets farmhouse rustic decor of the place more than a month before it opened.

While I’m generally skeptical of this level of pre-opening hype, I have a great deal of respect and fondness for Little Owl and Market Table.

And, Joseph Leonard (named for Stulman’s two grandfathers), with its cozy setting and equally comforting lineup of dishes, is likely to please many — especially those who love salt, which chef Jim McDuffee (formerly of Bouchon Bakery) seems to be rather fond of.

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A Mouth Full of Booger


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Slowly and carefully, Greg and I chewed, on the verge of both laughter and disgust as we tried to put a name to what it was we were tasting.

“It’s like a bad taco,” Greg said.

“Tequila or margaritas — regurgitated,” I said, thinking suddenly of a college night long, long ago.

It was actually vomit that we were sampling — vomit-flavored jelly beans, to be precise.

When we had passed a display of rather unappetizing-sounding new Jelly Belly flavors at the Fancy Food Show in New York City, we had known it was a silly gimmick but hadn’t been able to resist. And so we spent some unpleasant minutes with mouths full of centipede (which tasted like grass and earth), skunk spray (as billed) and canned dog food (think Chef Boyardee). (Canned dog food and centipede are new this year.)

Drawing the line at Baby Wipes, we decided to walk away while our tastebuds were still intact.

“I still taste Booger in my mouth,” Greg whispered as we slunk away.

Well, somewhat intact, I suppose.

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