CORONADO ISLAND, CA - It’s early evening when we wander onto Orange Avenue, this enchanting island’s main thoroughfare, in search of dining options. The divided street, a.k.a. State Route 75, is lined with lots of stately buildings, some of which house the island’s landmark theatre and library, fashionable restaurants and shops.
Orange Avenue is ground zero for locals and tourists alike — people gather here each evening after a day of enjoying all this holiday island that sits directly across from San Diego offers.
We poke our heads inside the upscale boutiques and souvenir shops gathered along Orange Avenue and make a promise to visit one of its many ice cream parlours before returning to the legendary Hotel del Coronado, the street’s most famous address.
We see lots of restaurants but the sound of live music coming from one, Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge, peaks our curiosity.
We scour the street-side menu which promotes the restaurant’s commitment to “farm-to-table” ingredients and are intrigued by the “truffled fries” and “naughty ding-dong” desert being featured.
A few minutes later, we’re sitting at a table admiring the modern chic trappings that Leroy’s dining room comes wrapped in and our mouths begin to water as we look at the culinary choices on offer.
Will we start with the “niman ranch deviled eggs” or the “crispy pork belly” or the “squash soup infused with spiced cream?”
While we ponder, our young server tells us Leroy’s started out as a “hamburger joint” but changed “a few years ago” into a sophisticated room when owner David Spatafore decided to create a restaurant that would stand out from the others gathered along Orange Avenue. Interestingly, the street’s other popular restaurants — Village Pizzeria, MooTime Creamery, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q and Coronado Coffee Shop — are also owned by Spatafore’s Blue Ridge Hospitality Company.
“David named Leroy’s after his cousin Leroy Mossel, who was part Dutch and part Indonesian and our menu has lots of dishes that reflect those cultures,” the server says.
Being a big supporter of local farmers, Spatafore was one of the first to introduce the “farm-to-table” concept to his eateries — a trend many other San Diego-area restaurants have now copied — and the freshness of the ingredients makes Leroy’s fare very special.
Diversity is the key to Leroy’s success and thanks to the restaurant’s proximity to local farms, chefs are able to come up with some interesting and exquisite dishes, like mushroom and chèvre ravioli with chanterelle and black garlic or roasted brussels sprouts with orange and chill marmalade.
Because the menu at Leroy’s changes seasonally, there’s always something new to try but we hope they never leave off the deviled eggs or the naughty ding dong — a marriage of chocolate cake and ice cream that’s sinfully good.
Leroy’s lunch menu is equally impressive — the truffled fries, udon noodle and peanut salad and poke tacos are the top choices, we’re told.
Dinner also features a “farmer’s menu with wine pairing” which (the night we were there) was highlighted by roasted el campito carrots, spinach and parmesan followed by crispy trout accompanied by he shi ko chimichurri and young faro and ended with a pumpkin mousse tart with a vanilla bean. The price: $35-$45 per person. The experience: Priceless!
Leroy’s certainly stands out from other Coronado Island restaurants in more ways than one! •
Leroy’s is located at 1015 Orange Avenue in the village of Coronado. It’s open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 10 a.m to 10 p.m. To make a reservation, call 619-437-6087 or send an email to email@example.com / Leroy’s is a short drive from downtown San Diego across the Coronado Bridge.