I can’t help it. When I think of fall I think of turning leaves and taxidermy. Yes, I said taxidermy. This is the time of year where my husband becomes the great white hunter in hot pursuit of the buck out in the woods meant to feed the family for the winter. And yes, my family eats it. You do not have to embrace this lifestyle, nor do you have to eat venison unless you want to. But you do have to catch a great meal at one of Lansing’s local Leo’s. With three locations to serve you, one has to be in your neck of the woods.
Editor Emily and I enjoyed a long and liberal meal amoungst some beautiful taxidermy at Leo’s Outpost on Pennsylvania Avenue in Lansing. Leo’s is like a big celebration of the bounty that Michigan provides. There are venison and bison burgers, perch and walleye. My favorite is their oh-so-sophisticated “surf and turf.” That would be a burger with a big pile of smelt. I love it. If you are not a fan of such rustic fare, fear not! Leo’s has pizza and subs and sirloin. You really can’t go wrong.
As Emily and I always aim to cover our bases, we went with signature Leo’s fare. I had the pepper-jack crab soup with macaroni and cheese. Emily chose their famous cheese bread and a buffalo chicken salad.
The first taste of my soup had me cocking a brow. I was not quite sure what to make of it. Then the deeper I got, the more excited I became. It took a minute for my taste buds to catch up. As any cheese soup should be, it was thick and creamy. The pepper-jack gave it a subtle kick, and the crab was, um …. lovely? I don’t know. It just worked. I do not know if you have noticed, but I am still dating my boyfriend Cheese.
So, it should be no surprise that next up was the macaroni and cheese. Now this particular version is not on the standard menu, but I think we should demand it to be so. No ordinary attempt at a classic, the dish was an aggressive compilation of flavors that smacked my taste buds upside the head. Innocent little elbows were swathed in cheddar, pepper-jack and blue cheese. As if that were not enough, throw excessive amounts of chunky bacon on top. A bowl of carbohydrates not for the faint of heart, but Mama Mia (totally inappropriate use of expression considering the pasta was distinctly not Italian, but I wanted to convey my enthusiasm).
Emily’s food was good too. Leo’s signature cheese bread was a marvel of mozzarella, parmesan, butter, and garlic that we drowned in ranch and pizza sauce. It is somewhat hard to go wrong with that. Thank goodness there was a vegetable on the table. The buffalo chicken salad was solid. One, it had cheese, apparently the criteria of the day. Two, do not panic, the buffalo was not buffalo, just an innocent chicken having an identity crisis.
Let me promise you this, if you are a vegan, Leo’s may not be your first choice (though they do have lots of salads), but if you are looking for some warm, comforting food as we head into the cold months, Leo’s is the place for you. It’s a fun menu in a fun place with fun people. Like me, because I am going back.