At Five Leaves, Heath Ledger’s Legacy Lives On — And the Dogs Thank Him

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Having worked in the restaurant industry for years and built up a solid reputation, couple Kathy Mecham and Jud Mongell had a dream of opening up a restaurant of their own. Their dream was soon going to become a reality. During a chance encounter with Heath Ledger in Australia, Mongrell struck up a relationship with the actor. After the two separately moved to New York, they became reacquainted and decided to build an American and Australian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. The name would be Five Leaves.

During the building process, tragedy struck. Ledger passed away, leaving the fate of the restaurant unknown. But his family was so devoted to it and believed strongly in the vision, they continued to support it financially – allowing the establishment to open in September of 2008. And the customers, including dogs, thank them for it.

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Tucked away on Bedford Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Five Leaves is decked out to feel cozy with a nautical theme including the shape of the restaurant — a boat mass — to the rustic wood and potholes marking the restrooms.

five leaves interior
Image via Nicole Franzen

The cafe allows dogs to unwind in the outside seating area located in front. Owners not only get to enjoy the simple white brick façade, wrought iron shutters and flower boxes in bloom but also get to relish in what New Yorkers love to do: people watch.

Image via Nicole Franzen
Image via Nicole Franzen

With families, hipsters, creative types and young professionals walking all around Five Leaves, there is ample opportunity to be engrossed in the Brooklyn scene. And dogs get to enjoy lapping up water, mingling with other pups and watching pooches on their daily walks.

Five Leaves Hero
Image via Eli the Little Guy

While the décor doesn’t disappoint, neither does the food.

For those making the trek for their brunch menu, you may have to wait a bit. Known for a number of dishes, some that stick out and make us wanting more.

Their notorious ricotta pancakes are nothing short of unreal/extraordinary. Off the griddle, the fluffy, thick pancakes are topped with slice bananas, strawberries, blueberries and a huge ice-cream scoop of honeycomb butter. What’s there not to love?

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five leaves pancakes
Image via Nicole Franzen

Another must-have is the big breakie — a dish ideal for those feeling a little rough around the edges. Customers get their choice of two eggs cooked any style with whole wheat toast, hash browns and two other sides – anything from sautéed kale to fried tomatoes and house made chorizo.

Down it with a delicious cold beer, a staple cocktail like the grapefruit margarita or the classic brunch beverage: a bloody Mary.

five leaves cocktail
Image via Nicole Franzen

If you are making your way to Five Leaves for lunch or dinner, make sure you check out their signature Five Leaves burger. Made with grass-fed beef, the patty is topped with fried pineapple, house pickled bees, harissa mayo and a sunny-up egg.

Image via Nicole Franzen
Image via Nicole Franzen

If this is too much amazingness, the restaurant also offers a simpler burger.

And for those that are looking for delicious comfort-style food, order the lamb shephard’s pie. It is loaded with an array of rotating honey roasted-root vegetables and topped with homemade mashed potatoes.

On the other side of the spectrum, if just looking for a light bite, you can’t go wrong with the chopped kale salad –Five Leaves version of the Cesar salad. Made with chopped black kale tossed with spicy anchovy dressing and topped with aged Gouda, hazelnuts and fresh anchovies, it is a customer favorite.

The great vibe, people and food have customers and their dogs returning again and again.

There is just something special about walking in and here, says service manager Diana Donahue. “You are greeted by all the different people that are working and if you have been in several times, someone is going to remember your name, your face.” And your pup’s mug, too.

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