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There’s been a lot of buzz about Leo, Annapolis’ newest restaurant from Hilarey and Brian Leonard. This husband and wife team who own two Washington, D.C. bars—Lost & Found and Free State—now live in Annapolis. After a recent meal, there is no doubt the accolades are well deserved.
Housed in an unassuming West Street building, this restaurant offers a pleasent interior. There is a casual sophistication to Leo. Could this vibe be due to the D.C. connection? This is the sort of place where you could spend many an evening trying all the interesting things on the menu: items like Susquehanna Snakehead, broiled oysters, or a fried chicken sandwich.
We enjoyed the Last Dance, a pretty mezcal cocktail with cranberry, lime, and Cocci Rosa. Other notable drinks: the sparkling Rosé Cava and a glass of the Hémonière Sauvignon Blanc. Along with a host of wine options, the bar features a thoughtful selection of craft beers.
Chicken Liver Mousse is a seasonal first-course treat featuring a cute Ball jar of whipped mousse garnished with micro greens and served alongside coarse mustard, pickled onion and cucumber, and crusty rounds of toasted bread. This mousse is suave (not your grandma’s chopped liver!)—just the thing to start out with on a crisp fall evening.
Scallops are seared and served with fennel slaw, grapefruit beurre blanc, delicate pieces of grapefruit, and a smattering of basil oil. The scallops are perfectly seared and completely satisfying. We love the pairing of the savory and the citrus.
The rockfish is super buttery, served with bitter, tangy greens, red pepper purée, and a confetti of shiitake mushrooms. It would have been nice to have more mashed cauliflower to foil all the other strong flavors.
Leo offers up a selection of cheeses. Curious to try local cheeses, we found the Bay Blue, a blue cheese from Chapel’s Creamery in Easton, to be quite flavorful. Prairie Tomme is a raw sheep’s cheese from a farm in Missouri with an evocative name: Green Dirt Farm. This cheese is very fresh and creamy. Cheeses come served alongside herbed walnuts, mustard, and a dab of honey. The cheese is a superb nibble.
“The art of fine cooking is impressive with some of these dishes,” touted my dining companion, indicating the towers of potato pavé that the staff coin “potato city” because of the way they tower above the flawlessly cooked slices of steak. The steak is delicious, the potatoes are a mini-high-rise buttery marvel, the mustard greens are tangy; a horseradish cream and toss of pea shoots round out this well-considered dish.
Kudos to the chef for having a dedicated vegan dish on the menu. If only the sunflower pesto risotto had been as good as the other dishes we had. It came to the table warm, not hot. At first, it tasted good, with lots of diced summer squash and a puddle of herb oil. But after the first few bites, the plate settled into blandness. Were that the risotto had some element to make it really special.
Dessert was a smash with brioche bread pudding. Simultaneously pillowy and crunchy with a honey glaze, it came with a smattering of custard and a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream—a delightful ending for a delicious meal from the latest and greatest place to eat in Annapolis.
The menu is thoughtful and contains many treats. Leo is the new kid on the block but deserves to be your new friend in Annapolis.
212 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
leoannapolis.com | 443.782.7549
Hours of Operation:
© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 6 2023