Restaurants Now: Leon’s Full Service, Frisky Oyster Bar,
Church & State

This week’s American tour stops for snappy bar food in Decatur, oysters and softshells in Long Island, and bistro favorites at a revamped Los Angeles restaurant.
leon’s full service

Decatur, GA: Leon’s Full Service

I’ll be honest. I outright envy the residents of Decatur. The folks who live in or near Atlanta’s “little sister” city have plenty of time to work their way through the deceptively simple menu at this new neighborhood spot; the single sheet sports an astonishing amount of creative, modern bar food, plus fantastic cocktails and a remarkably well-curated beer selection. From the simplest snacks (roasted cashews flavored with bourbon and bacon; bistro-inspired radishes and butter) to crispy trout fillets drizzled with apricot vinaigrette, chef Eric Ottensmeyer knows how to have fun. Fans of his crispy, pitch-perfect frites get to choose between thirteen dipping sauces, including chèvre fondue and peppercorn gravy. Bocce fanatics (there’s a court out back) can nosh on day-glo hummus spiked with carrot or crunch into a sweet-savory waffle, which comes wrapped in wax paper bag. The glass-clad dining room and bar can get loud, but the patio and bocce court offer refuge. Makes a traveler jealous… 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA (404-687-0500; —Pableaux Johnson

Greenport, NY: Frisky Oyster Bar

When the Frisky Oyster opened on the North Fork of Long Island five years ago, East Enders got a restaurant that instantly raised the sophistication level of an area better know for farmstands, vineyards, and weekenders out from the city. It felt clubby. It felt like New York, downtown New York. Now, the owners have opened the Frisky Oyster Bar, just a block down the street in Greenport. The more casual, no-reservations restaurant offers many of the same dishes as its older sibling, the kind of satisfying, straightforward food that’s not aiming to hit any culinary heights. I was happy to see the grilled skirt steak, a favorite that comes with sides of radicchio and a baby romaine salad dressed with a subtle blue-cheese dressing. I also love the crab Louie, with a creamy pink sauce that only hints at Thousand Island. Soft-shelled crabs and Montauk tuna are staples of both menus, too. So if you’re looking for the difference between the two places, just think of the main restaurant as a cozy, cool-weather retreat with red-flocked wallpaper while the bar is more Nantucket, all airy and white, with swirls of blue paint that lend a Jackson Pollock effect. 136 Front St., Greenport, NY (631-477-6720) —William Sertl

Los Angeles: Church & State

Americans love the idea of a second chance, of watching someone persist until they get it right. So there’s something especially thrilling about the successful rebooting of Church & State, a French bistro in downtown L.A. that opened to sullen reviews back in 2008. The place always had a great look—carnival lights, antique mirrors, brick floor, and a great location in the vintage Nabisco building—but it wasn’t until the talented chef Walter Manzke (formerly of Bastide) arrived earlier this year that the food began to match the charming atmosphere. For lunch we had a moist, bacon-y roasted chicken à la Bourgeoise with pearl onions and carrots, and a croque-monsieur so light and fluffy it could have doubled as a tea sandwich. After a summer job at a cannery in Alaska many years ago, I thought I never wanted to see a shrimp again, but a plate of sweet Santa Barbara spot prawns, accompanied by garlic aïoli and topped with a handful of English peas and fresh wild arugula from Manzke’s parents’ garden, had me rethinking my boycott. The place was noisy, the tables full, the prices reasonable. Church & State is in a somewhat dicey neighborhood, but who doesn’t want to support a comeback, especially in this town? 848 Industrial St., Los Angeles (213-405-1434; —Margy Rochlin

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