Mon, 10:30am-midnight; Tue-Fri, 8am-2am; Sat, 9am-2am; Sun, 9am-midnight
1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
The architect of this carefully curated little space is Gabriel Stulman, who also runs the popular West Village restaurants Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fedora, Bar Sardine, and Perla. He’s named this one for his grandfathers, Joseph and Leonard, and the plates on the cozily spaced tables used to be stored in his mother’s garage. Like the Little Owl (where he used to run the front of the house), Joseph Leonard occupies a prime piece of Village real estate: in this case, on the corner of Waverly Place near Sheridan Square, where the popular brasserie Les Deux Gamins once stood. There are no reservations at Joseph Leonard. This ensures that tables (there are only seven of them) fill up quickly (arrive before 6:30 or you’ll find yourself loitering out on the sidewalk like I did, several evenings in a row) and that, as the night wears on, the room takes on a pleasantly intimate, cocktail-party feel.
Joseph Leonard’s very standard bistro menu isn’t inspired enough to add to this festive atmosphere, but neither is it so horrible that it detracts from the proceedings. You can procure decent oysters at the bar (fresh bluepoints for $1.50), and a pink slab of country pâté served, predictably, on a butcher board, with a brittle stack of toast points ($12). If you order the faithful (if undersize) house frisée salad, the egg yolk is placed on a circle of crunchy toasted brioche and plated on the side. Given Stulman’s keen antenna for culinary fashion, you’d expect a signature burger on the menu at Joseph Leonard, and, in fact, they serve one at lunchtime. If you want a truly inventive, rib-sticking dish, I suggest the pork hock ($19), which the kitchen braises, deep fries, and sprinkles with frizzled capers. The typically meager small-restaurant dessert roster (there’s no freezer in the tiny kitchen) includes a rich slab of carrot cake and salted caramel pudding. All the ladies at the bar were ordering the caramel pudding. It’s served in a Mason jar, of course.Note
The best table in the house is in the back right corner, away from the trampling herd.Ideal Meal
Crispy braised pork hock, $25