If you put a gun to our head & forced us to find fault with Leslie Jones (an admittedly unlikely scenario, but indulge us) we would probably umm & ahh until eventually sheepishly muttering something about the appetizers not being quite as good as the rest of the menu. That's what we would have said until last Saturday anyway when J ordered the warm spinach salad with double smoked bacon, mushroom & grilled onion & L went with the tomato & roasted red pepper soup. We ended up swapping dishes, as the faintly mapley dressing wasn't one of J's favourites, although for the life of him, L cannot remember the last time a salad made him so happy.
Both of us enjoyed the delightfully rich & flavourful soup, although L was perfectly happy to surrender his bowl to J, tomato soup being one of those things that he tries to avoid asking for & feels just has to be endured until it is over, even if he is secretly enjoying it, like a culinary prostate exam.
As for the entrees, we invariably order the same thing each time we visit, L goes with the braised beef brisket with red wine, mushroom & green pepper corn, J with the piri piri pulled pork with braised onion, fresh herbs, and lemon yogurt dip. These just happen to be the dishes that lure us back to Leslie Jones over and over again, although we suspect that had we happened to order something different on our first visit, we would probably be rhapsodising over that instead. The peppery pork with the creamy but slightly sour herb sauce is one of J's favourite dishes of all time, including those she has devoured in Italy. The restaurant affords you a full view of the chefs as they work their wonders in the tiniest of kitchens equipped with just a standard kitchen stove. It's like gazing in wonder upon the Sistine Chapel ceiling only to be told that Michelangelo painted the whole thing with a toothbrush.
Rarely are veggies a favourite of J's, but at Leslie Jones they hold their own with the proteins and carbs. Her best guess is that the veggies are bubble and squeaked. Their lovely individual roasted goodness comes through, but they also taste like they've been hanging out in some hot and steamy lounge together, having some good ol times.
L has played the field of Leslie Jone's entree menu a little bit more than J, having thoroughly enjoyed both the chicken breast with dijon & leeks as well as the gnocchi on previous visits when his pathological fear of ordering the same thing as someone else rendered the brisket out of bounds. But it's the brisket that he always comes back to; it really has no right to be so delicious, so seemingly simple does it appear on the plate. L has sampled some truly wonderful brisket in his life, from passover brisket in leafy London suburbs to redneck brisket prepared by toothless hicks in Tennessee, but Leslie Jones' still reigns supreme, although to be fair, L has heard wonderful things about Mrs Maurice Levy's too.
For desert we had a flourless chocolate cake, a desert that we find it is sometimes best to give a wide berth too if you see it on a menu as so often it is a byword for unremitting chocolate tedium. This being Leslie Jones though, it was predictably delicious; audaciously moist, each mouthful of chocolatey bewitchment a perfect balance between light & dark, sweet & bitter. It isn't even the best desert we have had here, the sweet potato cheesecake being even better in L's opinion. Word on the street is that best of the bunch is their carrot cake but we're sorry, we just can't bring ourselves to order carrot cake.
Service was lovely, drinks were marvellous, music was inoffensive, in fact the only thing that can possibly go wrong with a trip to Leslie Jones is if they happen to be closed for one of the frequent private functions they hold. Too busy taking care of business to tweet, if you don't phone ahead, you may be left on their doorstep, wailing & gnashing your teeth.