I’m a foodie at heart and have been blessed with a particularly non-picky palate, so when I was asked to check out Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge and give a review, I jumped at the chance to try what I knew was another great restaurant in Coronado. But dining by yourself is just not as fun, so I grabbed one of my favorite girlfriends and fellow foodies to enjoy a fun night out in the 92118.
When we arrived at Leroy’s, I couldn’t help but notice the great vibe as soon as we walked in. The restaurant enjoyed a moderately busy crowd for a Friday night, but was not jammed packed, which allowed for an easy, fun and comfortable dining experience.
Leroy’s has a great urban, eclectic feel. Local art (which is for sale) adorns that walls and is rotated monthly as a way to showcase various artists from Coronado. Colorful and funky artwork from local artist Thomas Murray was currently on display. In the past, the restaurant has featured artwork from senior students at Coronado High School and even from some of Leroy’s employees.
When we sat down, we dived in to the menu head first, appetites blazing, ready to conquer what we understood to be masterful culinary creations.
We started out with a selection from their Bites + Shares section and ended up with a smorgasbord of delightful appetizers that really set the tone for the rest of the meal we knew would follow. The roasted Brussels Sprouts prepared with an orange and chili marmalade ($7) is a must. They were perfectly crispy around the edges and had an unexpected sweet taste that gave them a bit of Asian flair. The baked brie with caramelized onions, walnuts, dried cherries, figs and local honey drizzled on top was perfectly accompanied by a crispy baguette ($14) was simply creamy and delightful, an ultimate comfort food. It could have left us happy had we tried nothing else on the menu. But of course, we knew better. We also opted to try their magnificent charcuterie and cheese board ($15), which offered so many different choices and combinations of flavors that it reminded me of a choose your own adventure story. House-made head cheese, duck liver pate, goat’s milk Boucheron, fig jam somebody pinch me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome cocktails we were sipping (okay maybe guzzling) as we sent our palates into a culinary paradise. Between the two of us, we decided to try the Strawberry Lemonade ($9.50) and the Sunset Mojito which was prepared with 10 cane rum, fresh mint, blackberries, lavender, soda and lime ($11). It was probably one of the prettiest cocktails I had ever seen, I almost didn’t even want to drink it! But, of course, I did.
We had the pleasure of experiencing amazing service, which honestly didn’t surprise me, but that service made the meal that much tastier. It’s really easy to see that everyone on staff at Leroy’s has an incredible attention to detail everything from the décor and the waitstaff to the menu selections and artfully prepared dishes was just perfect.
We chatted up our waiter Matt, who was awesome and who, we learned, has big things waiting ahead for him. We also had the chance to meet Heather Tanno, the Assistant GM. Tanno, who has worked at Leroy’s for about eight months, said that the best part about working at Leroy’s is the camaraderie among all the staff.
“We really are a family, that’s what makes it so great to be here,” Tanno explained. Owner David Spatafore has been in the restaurant business for over 25 years and is a Coronado local. And the name on the outside of his restaurant? That’s after Leroy Mossel, Spatafore’s cousin.
“We all care about each other and are here to have a great time and provide an unforgettable experience for our guests. We want everyone to feel special.”
That was quickly becoming very clear. As we continued to dine on our appetizers, we learned more about the amazing transformation that happened at Leroy’s when Executive Chef JC Colon came on board just four months earlier. Classically trained at New York’s prestigious French Culinary Institute (which has since then been renamed to the International Culinary Center), Colon brings experience from Urban Kitchen Group in San Diego as well as Tempo, a French Mediterranean restaurant in Brooklyn. Colon pays very close attention to including fresh, local ingredients into just about every menu item. Suzie’s and Chino’s are just two of the local farms that contribute to the farm-to-table experience at Leroy’s.
Dinner arrived and we spent a few seconds gazing admiringly at the beautiful food that was just placed in front of us. The Brandt bistro steak ($26) (which was cooked perfectly to a juicy medium) was topped with a fresh chimichurri sauce and the crispy fries were to be dipped in a parmesan aioli sauce. We also chose the prosciutto-wrapped pork chop ($25) served with potatoes mousseline, braised escarole and a fig demi glace. It was the perfect combinations of flavors and textures that made it hard share, but I did. The pork was amazingly tender and was the perfect complement to the smooth and buttery potatoes.We also opted to take a trek back into Bites + Shares territory and try the white cheddar and bacon mac and cheese ($6) as an extra accompaniment to the main courses. After all, what is better than creamy, cheesy noodles with glorious hunks of salty bacon? Nothing. Our dinner was so good that our conversation quickly came to a halt; we just ate and kept our mouths busy. I should mention too that the portion sizes are extremely generous, without being so obscene that you feel like you’re in a food competition. They are the perfect size for sharing (or not) the leftovers with your husbands at home, which is what we did.
As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I had planned on enjoying the Bacon Mary (Leroy’s ingenious version of a Bloody Mary that includes bacon infused vodka. Seriously?) but opted for a lighter cocktail and settled on the Red Tide ($11), a tasty little beverage with blood orange infused titos vodka, Campari and St. Germain.
It would have been wrong not to try at least one dessert, so we finished our meal off with S’mores in a Jar ($8) which was a cocoa nib brownie, marshmallow ice cream, graham cracker and coffee caramel. I know what I’m bringing to my next campfire.
And then there were none. We had finished our meal and were slowly floating about in a state of pure gastronomical bliss. It was hard to contain our excitement and we had already started planning our next series of date nights and girls’ nights out to come back and try everything (and we meant everything) we had missed this go round.
Luckily for us (and you) we will have the perfect opportunity to do so. Starting Sunday, September 15 through Friday, September 20th, Leroy’s is participating in San Diego’s Annual Restaurant Week and is offering 2-course lunches for $15 and 3-course dinners for $30. I have no doubt that their poke tacos, softshell crab BLT, chilled corn soup and Mary’s roasted chicken (I’ll have to go back just for that) will be served up in droves.
If you think you have to drive across the bridge to enjoy an amazing meal, think again. And if you haven’t been to Leroy’s in a little while, or even ever, you need to go. Right now. Their menu is a must for people who enjoy good, unpretentious food that is cooked well. Very well.
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