Leonard's House of Love
Drink tinnies, down burgers, dance and play pool in Leonard's lounge room-like bar.
UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19 — Like the rest of Melbourne's hospitality venues, Leonard's is currently closed to dine-in, but it's offering its fried chicken and burgers to-go, including its mushroom, veggie and vegan burgers. After a boozy drink? You'll find picklebacks and tequila slammers going for a tenner, too. Order over here.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Chapel Street was a rather long way away while spending some time in Leonard's House of Love. The offering from the folks responsible for one Melbourne's preeminent watering holes The Sweetwater Inn, is placed a mere block away from its predecessor. And while Sweetwater serves up drinks and food with a distinctly Australian twang, Leonard's offering is done in good ol' fashioned American-style, without being either chintzy or contrived.
Leonard's vibe is log cabin-meets-houseparty, and even though there's a fair serving of wood in the decor, it's more saloon than sauna, so plonk yourself down at a table (inside or out) and peruse the drinks list. Choose from an array of tap beers ($4.50–12) or plump for a cocktail and sip it down while you decide on some nosh. The menu consists mainly of dude-food, and while there aren't pages and pages of options, the selection is focused without being limited.
If you're hungry you could go for the Fat Greek Salad ($14), but hell, you're not here for a damn salad. Begin like Leonard would want you to with the epic hot-glazed tenders ($17), chicken 'n' rice ($17) or original tenders ($16). Unsurprisingly, burgers are top-notch, so grab a cheeseburger ($13, double for $16) or the smoked mushroom option ($12). While you're here you may as well take up any spare table real estate with some Tex Mex ($15) or cheese and gravy ($12) fries. Besides, you can always burn off any spare energy with a turn about the dancefloor once you've emerged from your postprandial somnolence (aka, food coma).
There's plenty to do after you've lined your stomach and crammed your face with food; there's a pool table tucked away in the back and a TV lounge that phoenixes into dance floor – a great spot to shuffle the night away with DJs until 3am on weekends. The amiable staff will wander over for a chat and are quick to help you figure out the best options for drinking and dining. You'd be onto a good thing if you chose Leonard's for a chilled date (first, second or anywhere beyond).
With a large courtyard area and abundance of spots for you and your nearest and dearest, it feels like this sorta-secret South Yarra spot is going to be a real hit come the long hot days of summer.