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Leon Restaurants (London)

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    6 Reviews
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      17.08.2010 16:44
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      An affordable treat.

      Oh Leon, why have I been hiding under a rock? Why did it take me so long to discover you?

      Leon is a recent discovery of mine. They are a small chain of cafe/restaurants based in London. I very recently visited the Canary Wharf branch for the first time and so this will be the basis for my review.

      I had no idea this place even existed. I was meeting up with a friend and his girlfriend for drinks and we decided to grab something to eat first and as this was the first place we found, this is where we ended up. The restaurant itself is very small, seating maybe 30 at a push, but they do takeaway in addition to sit-in, a bit like Wasabi and Pret a Manger. The restaurant is partly waiter-service, by this I mean they direct you to a table and give you a menu, but you have to place your order at the counter and pay for it there, before they bring it over to you.

      First impressions were that the restaurant was very small, but rather cute. They had candles at every table, although unlit at that time and it had a fairly 'Middle Eastern' feel about it, which makes sense as they do Middle Eastern-style food. The tables were very clean and although it wasn't overly busy, there was a steady stream of people coming in and out to buy takeaway items.

      Leon is very much an ethical restaurant and they use fair trade and organic goods as much as possible. That said, unlike a lot of places who use these labels as an excuse to push prices up, their prices were very reasonable. The menu had a selection of wraps, soups, sides such as salads and rice and also a selection of light bites, hot dishes and grazing dishes to be eaten tapas style with friends. Although licensed, they had a limited selection of alcohol, but also do a selection of tea, coffee and juices. The juices, although slightly expensive (I paid over £2 for orange juice) are definately worth it as they are delicious and taste freshly made and like you are getting a healthy drink. They even look healthy.

      We were really impressed with the prices - hot dishes being around £5-6, wraps at around £4-5 and grazing dishes at about £3-4 each. We all opted for wraps as we were in a rush, but next time I mean to sample the grazing dishes, boasting dishes such as halloumi, hummus, meatballs and chorizo. I opted for the chicken and chorizo wrap and it was delicous. It came in a rolled flat bread and had been grilled and was warm all the way through. It was absolutely stuffed full as bits kept falling out, making it very messy to eat. The chicken was tender and delicious, the chorizo giving it a bit of a kick and the chilli sauce was lovely and sweet. Although it was certainly warming, it wasn't too spicy, making it perfect for me. It was just the right size for lunch, however I do think it was slightly too small for a full dinner and I should have ordered a side of rice to go with it. However, it was still pretty good value for money. My friends opted for falafel with a side of rice, which looked delicous and was accompanied by the mutterings of 'mmmmmm' and 'yum yum yum.' Unfortunately, they ate it all too fast for me to sample!

      The customer service at Canary Wharf Leon is absolutely second to none. The staff were very friendly and after I'd been waiting for my wrap a little while, they came over to apologise for the delay; apparantly the printer in the kitchen had stopped working and so my order never printed out. They assured me it would be out in the next couple of minutes which it was - however, in all honesty I hadn't really been waiting very long in the first place. They then offered me a free Brownie to make up for the wait. Not necessary, but who was I to say no?

      My friends decided not to have a cake as they were full, so I decided to take it away with me. The selection of cakes was great - they all looked delicious and fresh on the display counter and all cost around £2. I opted for the 'Better Brownie' a chocolate brownie, with ground almonds flavoured with orange. I had this the next morning for breakfast and I can certainly say that this was a 'Better Brownie!' The slice was big and well worth the money and the flavour was delicious - very chocolatey, with a fruity after-taste, no doubt thanks to the orange in it, but not too rich. It's also suitable for veggies, glutan free and and wheat free, so definately one to treat yourself to!

      All in all, I can definately recommend Leon as being a very affordable, hidden gem. Fantastic.

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        11.10.2009 21:41
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        A great quick stop for a light lunch

        Leon is an ethical and healthy fast food chain in London. They pride themselves on ethically sourced and healthy food for people in a hurry. I have only been to the Carnaby St outlet so can only comment on that one.

        The food served a Leon is simply delicious. The menu is not vast and they only serve a handful of items so if you were to go daily it would become boring. What they do make however, is always healthy and of the same quality every time. Their dishes are often 'Modern European' and they have a selection of hot meals (such as curry or meatballs), salads or wraps. They also serve some desserts and a great selection of drinks from fresh juices to hot beverages.

        There is nothing from the menu that I cannot vouch for. Everything is wonderful. If you're in a hurry this is the place to go if you want to be healthy. I can strongly recommend the chicken supper food salad. Yes, it might be more expensive that grabbing a sandwich (think meals are about £6ish) but you feel alot better for the afternoon ahead. All the juices are also magnificent (try the lemon ginger and mint on a hot summers day - it will sort you out).

        They also have a compact restaurant in the back where you can sit and eat. Service is always charming and what it lacks in size (knocking knees is frequent) it makes up for in warmth. Highly recommended for both eat-in and takeaway.

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        14.09.2009 15:13
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        healthy quick eathical food

        Do you want reasonably priced food and drink in London with a strong commitment to ethical sourcing. May I suggest Leon, one of my favourite places for a cool drink, a coffee or a light snack.

        Leon is a London mini chain comprising of eight restaurants located all over the capital. I have passed by the Strand branch and ate in the Cannon Street and Ludgate Hill ones. Leon serve a range of simple freshly cooked tasty food and drink from breakfasts to lunch and dinners and all the bits in between. Leon is a very right on chain and have a commitment to using fresh seasonal produce and where possible organic and fair trade. All their meat and eggs are free range and from a traceable source (the website details the exact farms they use). Free range eggs are used in all their cakes so I can eat them without feeling guilty. They have won shed loads of awards including one from the RSPCA, the Observer and the Soil Association

        Enough of thee preaching so what's the restaurant like? The Ludgate Hill branch has a homely feel to it with lots of comfy sofas and tables scattered around the large room. Its an inviting place to relax. Wonderful retro feel posters s fill the walls and even the seasonally changing menu has a nice retro feel. There's some lovely fairy lights at the back and it just feels so homely if a little bit haphazard. One of my recent visits was for a cool drink and a catch up with an old friend was a gorgeous hot sunny day so we took advantage of the small number of outside seating in front of the restaurant. The Cannon street branch is smaller and just tables and chairs so not quite as comfortable as the Ludgate Hill branch.

        I like the menu at Leon, as well as being attractive it is very informative. Dishes that are vegetarian, low in animal fat, gluten, wheat and dairy free and low GI are clearly marked making it easy for those on a special diet to follow.

        Ordering is easy: just go up to the counter and make your selection. One problem I have found is that later in the day they may have ran out of things so always have a back up selection. One niggle was a friend ordered a smoothie late in the day and was told they had ran out. Normally when I have ordered one elsewhere they are made up there and then unless ingredients have ran out suggesting their smoothies are not quite as fresh as others. Hot food is is quickly served up during the day in little cardboard boxes or in foil wrap. I have heard that at dinner time they are served on proper plates but I have never eaten there in the evening.

        The choice for lunch and dinner is not extensive but good especially if you like chicken! Luckily there are vegetarian options. I like the sound of the cauliflower and sweet potato curry. I normally go there for a snack so if I want something savoury I opt for the sweet potato falafel wrap. The wrap is presented in a fol covering and has lovely soft but crispy flatbread with a filling of hearty, slightly spice sweet potato (rather than chickpea) falafel and a yoghurt's sauce and coleslaw. At £3.50 i think this is reasonable value for money. I have tasted the hummus which was lovely and chunky.

        In the summer I'm fond of their cool drinks. I'm very partial to their cloudy apple juice with mint and lime (£2,40). Its good quality very refreshing apple juice and the mint and lime just gives it a little bit extra and makes it slightly more interesting like a non alcoholic Mojito. If its a really hot day and I'm really thirsty I go for the lemon, ginger and mint quencher which is an infusion of all the ingredients. Its a bargain at £1.50 and it just tastes so bold and zingy as all three ingredients are strong flavours.

        Sometimes when I am at Leon i feel naughty and buy a sweet treat to go with my drink. They have a number of tarts that look very yummy such as dark chocolate tart and pecan pie. These cost £2,30 take away or £2.70 ea in which is again fairly reasonable . The last time I visited for an after work chat with some colleagues (I persuaded them it was better than Starbucks , which I believe is true) I fancied a Life by Chocolate mousse but they had ran out. Instead I had a lemon ginger crunch for £2.10. This was a slice of prepackaged cake about the size of a large flapjack. It had a lovely crumbly texture, the lemon and ginger were apparent without being overpowering and the almonds gave it more body and crunch.

        The toilets in the Ludgate Hill branch are down a steep set of steps so may not be particularly disabled friendly. I also had a problem with a non flushing toilet once , which was not ideal but it would not put me off going back
        i like Leon a lot. Its a good place for a quick bite to eat or meeting friends during the day. I would like to see how the atmosphere changes during the evening , as they do have a selection of wines, spirits and cocktails available. Its jot a nice relaxed atmosphere which would be great for an informal meal to catch up with friends but its not a place I would for a special occasion. I've got my Leon loyalty card which entitles you to a free drink or cake and i will definitely be collecting the stamps,as I find Leon a nice informal eaterie with ethics and makes a change from all your run of the mill chain coffee places.
        http://www.leonrestaurants.co.uk

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          19.07.2009 08:11
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          If only all fast food could be this good

          Leon is an absolute must if you are after refreshingly healthy fast food in London.

          I'm surprised that there aren't more branches across the UK.

          My favourite is the Moroccan Meatballs set. The curry set is OK, but I find it a little dry. The cookies are very nice too. You end up eating a lot, but never feel guilty for doing so as the food seems to be full of vitamins and feel-good items.

          I have been to many branches all over London and the quality of the food is the same in each one, but the atmosphere in each is different. Some are quiet in the evenings with candles that make for a nice romantic meal, other are full of tourists and are only good for takeaways.

          I'm very tempted to buy the cook book as I wish I could cook such nice food at home.

          An absolute must for all food lovers.

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            02.06.2009 14:13
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            Great place for lunch and very filling

            I absolutely love Leon! The surprising find of this wonderful restaurant has really lifted my spirits for lunch times - I was on my last sandwich from M&S and Pret, and don't think I could have stomached any more bread and calories without breaking down and weeping!
            I've never sat in Leon for dinner so can only comment on it's lunch.
            Branch:
            There are as many as 8 branches dotted around London but the the branch I visit is the Spitalfields one. It is tucked in between Scarlet bar and Kanteen and well located to the market itself. It has stiff competition from the rest of the surrounding restaurants, but despite this, I always see it busy at lunch times. This particular branch is open from Monday - Tuesday 8am - 10pm
            Wednesday - Friday 8am - 10.30pm, Saturday 9am - 10pm and Sunday 9am - 8pm.
            The décor is beautiful and I'm sure the rest of the chain's branches are the same. The look the restaurant achieves is a very authentic homely feel - especially as it's ethos is fresh, healthy, no preservatives and all that malarky, food! I just love the posters dotted around and the stickers used to wrap the cake-bars, decorate the juice cups and seal the foil wraps and lunch boxes.
            I usually takeaway my food but I have sat in this restaurant. It's ok, nothing special. It does feel slightly Macdonalds, in that, you order at the counter, they slap it on the tray and you take it to your table. So don't go there for a romantic date!
            Presentation:
            Whether you're sitting in or takeawaying you'll be given the same thing, save for a handy recycable paper bag for takeaway and a tray for eating in.
            Food:
            I have only tried their chicken chili both in wrap form and with rice. However, it does look like Leon has a clever thing going on. They have a menu of what looks like a diverse mixture of chicken flavours but really it is all just grilled chicken, with 3 different sauces (aioli, mexican salsa and chili). The wrap is priced at £3.95 with the rice meals more expensive at nearly £6. I can't really see much of a difference between the rice and the wrap, except the rice comes in a box and the wrap in foil. The amount of food is nearly the same, perhaps you get a little more chicken in the rice dish but there is coleslaw and yoghurt dressing in both.
            The flavours are intense but not too much to discourage the more milder pallette. The chicken, unfortunately, is not breast meat but the flavours and the marinade is still very good. The additional chili on the side helps bring the flavours of the dish out but I find that the chili can sometimes be too overpowering - so much so that it burns your lips afterwards. I think that is why they add on the extra yoghurt dressing on the chicken to help fan out any chili flames!
            Both the wrap and the rice dish are absolutely delicious and really filling. However, despite feeling full after a meal, it never feels heavy or greasy.
            I have tried the meal deal although this is a bit of a con. The deal contains a chili chicken rice dish, baked beans and a lemonade. Leon advertise it as a meal deal luring the consumer to think you're actually making a saving but really they've just added the price up of all the different things so you're not actually making a saving.
            I have also had their baked beans. These are spicy and not your bog standard heinz baked beans. Very nice and the tub it comes in is big, so I'm not sure I'll be getting this again as I'd struggled to finish this along with the rest of my meal.
            The lemonade drink is also very refreshing with fresh bits of lemon floating around. Not too sweet and a good amount so you don't feel like you're over-doing it.
            Finally, I've also tried lemon ginger crunch. I'm not sure what the nuitritional contents of this "flapjack" like cake and the crunchy base wasn't really crunchy at all (more crumble than crunch). However, unlike any other cake, it doesn't feel unhealthy, not too sweet and very morish.
            Overall:
            I would recommend this as a lunch place, not necessarily as a place for dining in. The food is great, good price and you get enough to make you full.

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              02.12.2008 16:14
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              Fantastic place to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner

              Leon is a London chain of resturants that produce healthy, additive free food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and takeaway. The branches in London I know about are: Cannon Street, Ludgate Circus, Soho and Canary Wharf -though I am sure there are more.

              It's currently my favourite place to eat and very reasonable for lunch - I usually get the wrap which is £3.50 - about the same as M&S though the hot meals can go up to about a fiver. The menu is on the website www.leonrestaurants.co.uk as it does change seasonally depending on available ingredients etc, but it is mainly salads (usually 2-3 on the menu at any time), wraps (again usually a selection) and then whatever is in the wraps can be served hot with rice as a main course - currently chicken, fishcakes and halloumi. Service has always been excellent - lunchtime queues are nicely managed and the staff and friendly and helpful. Certainly at lunchtime most of the food is already prepared so there is a very short wait. At lunch the food comes in lovely cardboard boxes or the wraps are packaged in tin foil, in the evening you get proper plates and cutlery. Dinner menu is pretty much the same as lunch with the addition of some bar snacks and a larger dessert menu. The chocolate brownies look fab!

              I highly recommend the sweet chilli halloumi wrap which is currently on the menu and when it changes again the sweet potato falafels(no chickpeas as there is no deep fat fryer in Leon kitchens and they don't work baked apparently!) is amazing. It's nice to ba able to go somewhere and get good food to eat knowing it is healthy, well prepared and responsibly sourced.

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