Every time I drive over the big blue bridge to Coronado, I wonder why I don't head to the peninsula more often. I realize it's no hotbed of coolness, but, oh, in this crazy mixed-up world of ours, I feel a nostalgic comfort in the milquetoast-Mayberry innocence of Tent City—I keep expecting to see Ron Howard cruise by on Orange Avenue in a '58 Impala. Leroy's Kitchen & Lounge is no edgy addition to the Coronado scene, but it's cool and friendly and another enthusiastic player in the farm-to-table movement.
As is becoming the norm, you could make quite a kooky (and yummy) dinner plate from the small plates alone. Don't miss the Blue Pepper Chips, particularly if you're a fan of stinky, creamy cheese. Toothsome, crispy potato chips arrive at your table, fanned out on a long, rectangular plate, the base of which is coated with a frothed garlicky sauce. The chips have velvety blobs of Point Reyes blue cheese smeared all over them, and a sweet and barely spicy pepper jelly is dribbled all over the potatoes. This is a textbook example of how to make contrasting textures and flavors work perfectly. The chips are crispy, the cheese is buttery and salty and the pepper sauce has a sweet, gelatinous quality that ties the whole plate together.
I'm also a big fan of the local deviled eggs, one of my favorite classic nibbles that I don't see nearly enough of on area menus. Leroy's interesting ovoids have an addictive sweetness thanks to the mango chutney blended into the yolks. This gave the filling a slightly runny texture, as opposed to the more pasty consistency of the traditional version, but it worked and tasted totally decadent.
I was tempted by the luxurious-sounding Tahitian Squash Ravioli—the brown-butter sauce part of the description nearly seduced me—but I settled on the Jidori chicken. Though it wasn't as exceptionally well done as, say, Urban Solace, with a bird that good, it's hard to be disappointed. The meat was flavorful, though it toed the line between tender and rubbery. I did love the whole-grain mustard rubbed all over the skin, as it gave the chicken flesh pungent moisture. I was even more enamored of the starch and veggies on the side. The wild rice was simple and unadorned, highlighting the nuttiness of the salt-and-pepper-colored grains. On the other side of the plate sat a farm-fresh pile of just barely crisp chunks of roasted eggplant, deep red, juicy tomatoes and bitter, peppery greens.
Because I'm a caring and thorough food writer, I saved room for dessert. I considered ordering the “Naughty Ding Dong” just because I wanted to keep saying “Naughty Ding Dong” as much as possible, but the Oatmeal Pie with Salted Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream jumped out more as a fun twist on a cookie-time classic. The tiny tartlet indeed has a filling of oatmeal and gooey, sugary caramel. The ice cream and salted-caramel drizzle work perfectly with the chewy cookie pie. A few moments to heat the pie up just a bit would have taken it from great to exceptional.
The service was friendly, knowledgeable and competent, but slow-moving, and I never could figure out why. They just seemed to move at a leisurely pace throughout the evening. But, I do have to give them a hearty thank-you for happily agreeing to whip me up a pregnancy-friendly mocktail at my request.
Hop in your Impala and see what Leroy's is up to.