At a tiny place like this, in the West Village, even arriving early in the day for brunch can't stave off a wait, albeit a short one for us. This atmosphere was welcoming, homey, decorated like a rustic cottage with knick knacks scattered around and black and white portraits on the wall. It turns out all of my food blog reading came in handy — I recognized the owner, Gabe Stulman, eating here. He moved from spot to spot visiting tables that must've been filled with regulars or friends. (It was recently announced that he'll be opening another restaurant just across the street.)
Joseph Leonard's clientele was dominated by women who had obviously spent much time putting together classy outfits and making themselves up, which seemed uncharacteristic of such a casual atmosphere. While it made for good people-watching, it left my dining companion and me feeling rather out of place. I usually try to avoid places filled with such people — they're often not as focused on the food they put out. And had we anticipated it, we might have used that as a hint to what our meal would be like.
Pork and garlic sausage, fried eggs, hashbrown, crème fraîche and arugula
Buttermilk biscuits, pork, gravy and poached eggs
I liked the unconventionally runnier gravy with the chunky pieces of pork, but my Southern dining companion lamented that this dish didn't hew more closely to a traditional version. The sausage rounds (we had both expected links) resembled large slices of chorizo, with fatty bits and a heavily peppery flavor. I didn't care for them much and there was little creme fraiche on the plate. The hash browns were very crispy and the best part of this dish, though the interior had a not very appetizing-looking gray, gooey interior.
My dining companion and I agreed that our meal was just okay, the service was unnecessarily haughty, and that we would probably not return for brunch, though we would be willing to give it another chance for a different meal. When the check arrived with two complimentary chocolate chip cookies, my dining companion wondered "Will these just be okay, too?" Turns out, they were. At least they were consistent.