Featured Story

Island restaurant makes its debut — Léon 1909 features European cuisine

Islanders got a first peek at the new Léon 1909 restaurant on Sunday, Aug. 7, one of a series of events to introduce the dining spot.

Owner Valerie Mnuchin was on the scene to welcome guests, who were eager to see the site and sample bites and beverages. Island business people and proprietors of other establishments were on hand to wish the owners well as the new venture joins the constellation of hospitality offerings on the Island this summer.

The transformation of what had been a bank building has been watched with fascination, as the building and its vault were dismantled and the new structure went up.

Visitors can now see that the interior is dominated by a wood-burning hearth with a blackened steel hood and soapstone top. Two chefs worked quickly and efficiently in front of the wood fires to turn out grilled meats and fish.

The menu will be focused on local ingredients as they come into season, including produce from Sylvester Manor. Skewered shrimp, tuna tartare, scallop crudo and grilled lamb were passed to give guests a sample of what will appear on the menu. Dinners will feature fresh pastas, Island favorites like duck and fish, rib-eye steaks and a classic burger.

The restaurant is named after Ms. Mnuchin’s paternal grandfather, reflecting the Provencal fare and comfortable style he enjoyed in his travels. The selection of wines and cocktails is a nod to the French and Italian influences he favored.

The high-ceilinged dining room, with exposed beams and copper chandeliers, gives the 74-seat restaurant an airy feeling, with a roomy bar opposite the hearth.

A long table is tucked into an alcove where families or groups of about 10 can gather for dinner. The room features white quartered oak tables made by a millworker with family ties to the Island.

Outside, a pergola-covered patio offers additional space for dining and cocktails. On Sunday, the afternoon heat was relieved by a cool breeze blowing across the patio.

Léon 1909 will be open for dinner five days a week, Thursday through Monday. Its website, leon1909.com, says the first availability for booking a table is Aug. 22.

It’s located at 29 West Neck Road, at the corner of Menantic Road.