Leo's - tempting me away from my regular haunts
Leo's Restaurant (Bremen, Germany)
Member Name: koshkha
Leo's Restaurant (Bremen, Germany)
Advantages: Nice staff, pleasant surroundings, credit cards accepted
Disadvantages: My salad was a little dull
On a visit to Bremen earlier this year I'd offered to take a couple of people who work for me - Marianne and Goedele - out for dinner and I'd asked them to pick where they wanted to go. Normally I just keep going back to the same place so I wanted to try somewhere different and Leo's was the place they chose. I was staying at the InterCity hotel by the railway station and Leo's is just a couple of blocks away, parallel with the railway line, and certainly no more than a five minute walk.
From the outside the building looks like an old church although apparently it's actually an old police station which surprised me. I had eaten there once before and found it to be rather unmemorable but I was happy to give it a second go. After all you can't say to someone "You choose" and then not go along with their selection.
We had pre-booked a table for 7.15 pm but when we turned up they had no record of the reservation. Luckily it didn't seem to be a problem and they soon found us a table. However if we'd arrived at 8 pm or later, I doubt there would have been any space. Inside the look is more 'bar' than restaurant and it's a dimly lit place with a colour scheme of dark red and black which is quite cosy but more of an evening colour scheme than a lunch time place and probably explains why it's not open until 5 pm every day.
We handed over our coats and were offered a choice of tables, taking one by the window. The waitress explained that they didn't have an English menu but said she'd be happy to help if I needed anything explained. With two German speakers with me, it wasn't an issue and I'm pretty fluent in food and drink so I didn't really need any help. Whilst we considered the menus, we ordered beers to drink.
~Food for Thought ~
For starters we asked for a small plate of mixed anti-pasti. I wondered if with three of us we might be better with a large plate but my colleagues reminded me that everything in Germany (food-wise at least) is enormous. Instead of taking the larger anti-pasti plate, we supplemented the small one with an order of olives and parmesan chunks to nibble on.
The waiters were incredibly smiley and friendly and were giving us the kind of looks like they found us rather amusing. The starters were delivered after about ten minutes along with a basket of fresh crusty bread. I had been a bit concerned about the anti-pasti as I don't eat meat but the plate contained only one item that I couldn't eat which was some air-dried ham. The strangest item on the plate was a mound of carrot slices served in a sauce that tasted really strongly of ginger and orange. I'm not a fan of boiled carrots but if you've got to eat them, this is a pretty nice way of hiding the carrot-taste. There were slices of aubergine, long slithers of grilled courgette sliced lengthways, a little mound of mozzarella perched on top of some rocket, some garlic mushrooms and a few olives. The other dish of parmesan cubes and olives had a mix of olive colours and half inch cubes of fresh cheese and was also very pleasant.
For main course I ordered a scampi salad, Marianne chose an Italian burger and Goedele went for the chicken kebab. I don't eat meat but even I was impressed by the Italian burger which looked amazing. It came served on ciabatta with grilled veg, bacon slices and a massive burger and accompanied by a large portion of fries which were served in a paper lined metal tube. By contrast the chicken kebab and rice just looked a bit 'beige' but I was assured that the dish was very tasty.
Crustaceans are always a gamble in other countries as the EU has certainly never succeeded in introducing any kind of standard nomenclature for beasties of the prawn family. Only a week earlier I'd had a dish listed as 'scampi' which turned out to contain tiny little tasteless mini-prawns barely worthy of the 'budget frozen prawn' name. This week I did a lot better and got good sized, meaty prawns of about an inch across. These had been beheaded, shelled and then fried in a little bit of garlic. Best of all there were plenty of them but the enormous dish of salad underneath was a bit bland and consisted of rather a lot of frilly lettuce that didn't taste of much mixed up with lots of small bits of cucumber and tomato. The prawns were good but the salad needed a bit more variety to make it more interesting. A large glass of Franziskaner weissbier is generally enough to help me turn a blind eye to the short comings of the food.
We skipped puddings and had teas to follow - peppermint for me and black tea for the girls. We were having such a nice evening that none of us were in a hurry to get home or back to the hotel. I really enjoyed the meal even though my salad wasn't the most inspiring and I came away feeling very positive about the place, so much so that it was only when I thought hard about what I'd actually eaten that I realised it hadn't really been all that special and if I'd been with other people who were less entertaining, it could possibly have been a very ordinary night out. On the plus side, the staff had been very friendly and attentive, nobody rushed us and the food was perfect for lingering over and taking our time even if it was a bit ordinary.
~The Damage ~
The total for three of us came to 75 euros which I thought was very reasonable for what we'd had. At current exchange rates it was less than £20 a head. The restaurant accepts credit cards and this was a bonus compared to several of the other places I've used locally which only take cash.
It's unlikely to displace the Ubersee Museum as my regular dining place near the railway station, but for a change it was a good choice and I enjoyed the evening though that was probably more down to the company than any particularly spectacular food.
Leo's Restaurant and Bar
Leo's can seat 140 people and in the warmer months when the terrace is in use, it takes another 100.
Summary: I enjoyed my evening but probably more because of the company than the food