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Restaurants

Leslie Jones

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on June 30, 2011 / review policy

Leslie JonesLeslie Jones has unique exterior signage that somehow didn't catch our eye last Friday night. So much so that we drove past it twice before spotting the oversize handwritten sticky label - a fun, unique touch that captures the essence of this contemporary little Italian restaurant in Leslieville.

Leslie JonesPassing through their fully booked interior we continued to their charming backyard patio, and waited to be served. Then waited some more. And then some more.

Leslie JonesService was friendly but pokey, as they seem to have been blindsided by an onslaught of customers around 8 PM - though I suspect some of these folks might have originally arrived for lunch and politely stuck around to receive their meals. Those of you planning a first date might want to consider a backup plan.

Leslie JonesThankfully we were treated to small plates of White Bean Puree with crispy pita bread ($7 for the appetizer) while we peaked at the menu - and though it was flavourful, garlic dominated the white beans, and the pita slices were more stale than crispy.

Starters range from $7 to $11, with only their appetizer platter priced at $15, and sides of rapini, mixed greens, and roasted potato only $4 each.

Leslie JonesThe Grilled Calamari ($11) was cooked to a delicate softness and spiced lightly with chilli flakes, but the portion was smaller than expected.

Leslie JonesAs we sampled the Baked Polenta ($9) with olive and roasted red pepper tapenade, goat cheese and basil puree it quickly aroused our senses. Isn't this just boiled cornmeal? We suddenly craved a cauldron-full, and tasked ourselves with learning to cook this at home. Every day. For at least a month. Highly recommended.

Main courses range from $14-18, with a good selection of six pizzas (five vegetarian), pastas and meat dishes.

Leslie JonesEggplant ($17) with spinach, zucchini, basil puree and goat cheese wasn't so much disappointing to eat as it was to look at - as if accidentally set on fire, then thrown onto a plate in an attempt to put it out. Zero points for presentation here.

Leslie JonesGemelli ($17) with grilled chicken was a good, simple dish, but excessively oily, and the pasta was replaced with linguini due to a supply shortage.

Leslie JonesThe Smoked Chicken and Mushroom Risotto special ($18) had a full, rich flavour, though lacked slightly in texture since the risotto was a touch overcooked.

Leslie JonesThe Baked Salmon Filet special ($20) with artichoke heart salsa was light and tasty, but as the most expensive menu item the size of the fish seemed laughable compared to the accompanying fresh greens.

Finally, the Potato Gnocchi special ($16 - top photo) with rapini, leeks and pesto in a gorgonzola cream sauce was an absolute crowd pleaser. The gnocchi is not made on site, but this is a highly recommended dish that I hope finds its home on the regular menu.

Leslie JonesOverall, Leslie Jones is recommended, but beware of slow service on potentially busy nights. Their selection of $6 desserts, $10 cocktails (including the rum-based D-Train I enjoyed) and $16 martinis would make this a fun after-work or late-night hangout.

Leslie JonesWriting and photos by Alex Kovach

Discussion

13 Comments

InaOnlina / December 19, 2007 at 10:37 am
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My wife and I were here recently for dinner. It's nice little spot with a great atmosphere and terrific food. They also have great "Happy Hour" specials. The only thing to be aware of is that it is cash only, so be prepared.
Helen & Amanda / August 5, 2008 at 01:20 pm
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Absolutely love this restaurant. Avocado salad is a must try. The "surprise" drinks were fantastic. Everything from our Server to the Food was terrific! .
Joy Acharjee / October 25, 2008 at 01:05 pm
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This is a very friendly local eaterie - the owner made us feel very welcome as soon as we stepped in the door. The pulled pork with market vegetables was very good but the cranberry cheesecake with an Oreo base was incredible. Will definitely be heading there again soon.
Dawn / December 2, 2008 at 11:03 am
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We took our parents for dinner here last night, it's our 3rd time going and the food and service seems to get better and better with each visit. The chef is simply amazing to cook up the food he does in that kitchen, I love the old school stove! The server is so laid back and so welcoming you totally feel at home the minute you walk in the door. They are so friendly and acommadating you want to chill and take your time. The gnocci, pulled pork and brisket was fantastic and the appetizers simply delicious. Our bill was $200 for 4 people, plus 2 appetizers and two bottles of wine, exceptionally reasonable for a night out. I cannot wait to go back, I'm so glad I live just down the street!
WAG / January 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm
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Just eat there tonite. Excellent service (drinks on the bar for putting up with the drafty door, cheers!), interesting food (bit overpriced, nice presentation), and good atmosphere. Would recommend.
Leslie Jones / January 11, 2009 at 02:14 pm
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i would love to pop in to this restaurant some time
after all it's got some odd homely flavours
and a humble look coupled with class with average needs
JAS replying to a comment from Leslie Jones / January 13, 2011 at 04:39 pm
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When you are going to shill your own restaurant, you should at least not use the restaurant's name as your username...
SC replying to a comment from JAS / June 30, 2011 at 09:37 am
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Hahah, I know, right?!
JBean replying to a comment from JAS / June 30, 2011 at 10:09 am
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Leslie and Jones are the names of the streets that flake the resto on each side. Not the person's name.
Frederick / June 30, 2011 at 10:14 am
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I seriously doubt commenter 'Leslie Jones' is affiliated with the place. Perhaps not the wisest choice of an off-the-cuff username, but whatever.

Anyway, as everyone has mentioned, this place is a neighborhood fave. I've eaten there easily a dozen times or more over the last 4 years and have rarely found the food or service to be amiss. Agree with the reviewer that presentation can be a bit lacking at times, but this is simple food served without flare. If they had pretensions of being fancier, I might be bothered by occasionally messy looking plates, but they don't, so I'm not.

As mentioned, service is relaxed and friendly.
jason / June 30, 2011 at 10:47 am
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That patio looks like Allen's. Very nice.
satellitemaps / July 2, 2011 at 08:17 am
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My girlfriend and I had dinner on the patio last weekend and it was a delight. The polenta appetizer with red pepper pesto is a must and had my girlfriend eying it throughout the first course. She had the Gnocci, which judging from the review, seems to be their winner dish; she enjoyed very much. I had the ratatouille and enjoyed very much. Service was great, friendly and prompt. Pretty much everything you want in a good night out for dinner.
Leslie Jones / January 30, 2012 at 05:56 am
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um it's been ages since my last comment...
but some dude hated me before this restaurant was made he made laundries on ww.com website pages and i made a bad eversince he vowed to make food how i love it, and promised to make an ass outta me since i never got his small bussiness course scam lols, where i fails u succeeded, and by the way it's my real name
if u make a RABBIT omlette i'dd buy it

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