Johnny Fontane’s is a 1950s American style diner that opened in April of this year. It is located behind the LGI on Great George Street. Even though it is little out of the way of the city centre, when my guest and I arrived, it appeared to be very busy with customers. The cliental was varied, there were some who were having an informal drink after work, through to groups of teenagers happily chatting and eating around tables and in booths.
A very polite hostess informed us on arrival that there was a half an hour wait for food. We were then shown to our table in the centre of restaurant. Only one menu was available between two of us, which appeared as though it had been in circulation all day as it was crumpled, covered in sauce stains and just about legible. Perhaps laminated menus would be better as they could be wiped clean and used again without looking like they had been used as napkins! Nobody takes your order at the table; you have to place it yourself at the bar. In order to help remember your order, notepads and pens are provided on all tables, so you can write everything down and simply hand it in at the bar when you are ready. I thought this was a fun touch.
Given how busy it was, there was only one person behind the bar and it was 10 minutes before we were served. Once again, the barmaid was apologetic about the delay. I sampled the homemade lemonade (£2.49) while my guest ordered a chocolate milkshake (£2.99). I was given my drink straight away, and my guest was told that his would be bought to the table. The lemonade was just sugary enough, but still had a slightly sharp edge. However, I felt the glass was missing a lemon slice garnish!
While waiting for our food, we took in the atmosphere. Songs from the 1950s and 60s were playing in the background, however, not from a jukebox, as I would have expected. The decoration has clearly been carefully thought about, there were number of vintage posters and stickers on the walls. In the meantime, my guest’s milkshake had failed to turn up. We asked twice regarding its whereabouts and on both occasions were told it was on its way.
The elusive milkshake eventually turned up alongside our food. It was beautifully cold and creamy with a deep chocolate taste. My guest and I had decided to order two different burgers and two different sides so we could sample as much food as possible. The single lemon and herb chicken burger (£6.49) was a whole chicken breast and succulent and had a hint of lemon and herbs. The single cheeseburger (£6.49) was clearly homemade, but fell apart when picked up, yet had a strong, meaty flavour. Be aware that when you order a burger at Johnny Fontane’s, that is what you get, fries and any other accompaniments are charged as extras! The hand cut fries (£1.99) were fantastic and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt and the chicken wings (£2.29) came with a homemade BBQ sauce that was sweetened to perfection according to my guest.
Overall, the experience was pleasant, but lacking in some areas. Having expected to be transported into ‘Grease’, the restaurant was not quite there yet. The concept is great and appeals to all sorts of people. However, there are still some finishing touches and alterations that possibly need to be made in order to make it that little bit better, especially during busy periods. Nevertheless, one aspect that cannot be faulted are the staff and management team who went out of their way to make our experience enjoyable and were very apologetic about the errors and waiting time.
Address: Johnny Fontane’s, Unit 1 Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3DL