Friday, September 16, 2011
A little while ago my husband, one of his colleagues and I dined at Leopold. I don't know why I didn't have high expectations, but I didn't, and Leopold, well, he turned that around real quick.
The ambiance has been described as "classy hipster" from other sources, which piqued the husband and my curiosity before even stepping in. We walked in to a designer's delight. Cool grays, warm exposed brick, nailhead scalloped dining chairs, lighting done just right. I was expecting a little more grit in this West Town joint, and upon arrival wondered if my jeans and blazer were a bit underdressed. Others in the crowd were dressed in such a literal depiction of "classy hipster", I had to stop and wonder which came first – the crowd or the descriptor (I’d much prefer the former). Mustaches tweaked just right, hipster plaid buttoned up primly, and I do believe I spotted a bow tie. It was quite the classy hipster scene to be seen.
And so we sat to drink and dine. With Leopold being of Belgian ancestry, the boys went with some Belgium ales while I stuck to the vino. The husband has a weak spot for a good Belgium ale, and was sold on Leopold before he’d even served us dinner. And then came the food, and we were all sold.
We started with the Smout, which is a kind of “pork butter” served with toast ~ somewhere in between bone marrow and foie gras, extremely rich in texture yet subtle in flavor. Then came one of the standouts of the night, steak tartar served with toast ~ the capers and pickle gave it bite, the mustard tang, and everyone wanted more. Out comes the salad liegoise, with its light spring onion vinaigrette, topped with a beautiful duck egg, and we were all happy our waitress had wisely mentioned we might want just two main plates over three.
Two mounds of mussels appear, with glistening frites and a choice of dipping sauces, and my mouth was literally watering. Moules and frites, oh how I adore thee. The broth was flavorful but not overpowering, and I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed each one.
I’ll certainly visit Leopold again. I can see how his charm could woo me away from the arms of other favorites if he continues to have the same charisma. I’d go for the food, stay for the scene, and save room for dessert.