Leaf has been one of the new buzz restaurants on the peninsula and we’ve been working up an appetite to try it. Situated in the old Vickery’s location, when you walk into the main entrance, you’ll find the large open bar area and they’ve got tons of outdoor seating which is one of the best assets of the restaurant.
It was no secret that Vickery’s downtown was a notorious hangout for men of an alternative lifestyle and, after our dining experience, I can say that there must be something about that building, because our gaydars were going off like crazy. So, if you’re a dude looking for another dude to buy you a glass of pinot grig, give Leaf another shot, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten how to get there.
Their “mission statement” so to speak, as outlined on their website is to” demonstrate simplicity in both food and setting, provide a comfortable atmosphere for guests, blend the indoor and outdoor dining spaces, and offer it all at a terrific value.” We found our experience to be just as described. My favorite feature was the terrific value: they won’t try to make you poor by charging $10+ for a side salad (all small salads are just $5).
We started with the TRIPLE DIP WITH ROASTED PITA CHIPS ($7). You can pick 3 of the 5 dips they offer; we sampled the FETA MOUSSE (which wasn’t nearly as flavorful as expected, but they did a good job getting the consistency to be mousse-like) and the SMOKED PEPPER HUMMUS (it was good, but nothing extraordinary)– but the real standout: the HOUSE BOURSIN. Only suggestion is that the very creamy, flavorful cheese spread ended up being wayyy too rich when paired with the “pita chips”. Which brings me to my next rant, why in the hell are they calling these chips “pita chips?” (here) They are much closer to being considered a “wonton chip,” as pictured here. A pita chip is made by taking pita bread, spreading with olive oil and then baking, whereas the wonton chip is deep-fried, giving it a richer flavor. The wonton-like chip greatly took away from the flavor of the dips we tried. I mean, come on guys, if you’re not committed enough to make you own pita chips, then just buy bags of Stacy’s Pita Chips–your customers will appreciate the change. Or, at least change your menu to be more accurate.
Next course was the CAPRESE SALAD ($5), which was absolutely delicious. The thickly sliced, beefy tomatoes were a bright red and perfectly ripe. The mozzarella was great, too, and, of course, the best part of any caprese salad: the basil tasted very fresh.
And for $5 a pop, why not try another salad– like the SEASONAL MIXED GREEN SALAD. This featured the same tomatoes from the caprese and was also a decent-sized portion and fresh tasting. The dressing was their very light lemon vinaigrette, which only had a faint hint of lemon.
We skipped the larger-portioned entrees and split the BOCCADILLO ($9). This was served on very heavily buttered then grilled sourdough bread (good news is that “heavily buttered” is nearly always synonymous with “heavily awesome”), which is just meant to hold the insanely salty serrano ham and the rather sharp melted manchego cheese. And, as is the theme of the meal, a slice of tomato. Essentially a grilled ham & cheese with Spanish ingredients, it was absolutely worth getting again. The boccadillo was served with your choice of side including frickles (fried pickles), Leaf slaw, sweet potato fries or, our choice ,the PARMESAN TRUFFLE FRIES. Hopefully, the attached picture will portray just how amazing these fries were, but, if not, let me just say that they were perfectly crispy and would have been great straight out the fryer. But Leaf decided to make them awesome but drizzling them with truffle oil and sprinkling them with parmesan cheese. Although it was served with a side of ketchup, you’d be a complete moron if you used it because it took away from the other (better) flavors. They were good enough to spark a debate about who had the better fries, Rue de Jean or Leaf — which is a statement in and of itself.
Bottom line: If you haven’t been to Leaf yet, you’re missing out on a deliciously inexpensive meal. Make sure to go on a day when you can take advantage of the patio seating, and, guys, I would avoid going alone in ass-less chaps—unless that’s what you’re into.