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Leon Review: “Feel Good” Fast Food?

Published 6 May 2010

When studying, living, or working around central London it is sometimes quite a dilemma to find a restaurant that serves cheap, quick, and healthy food. Leon, an award winning fast food restaurant, has a reputation for doing exactly that, and so when the opportunity presented itself for me to visit the Cannon Street branch of Leon, I couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about!

During a day out shopping, my friend and I finally decided to visit Leon, the restaurant we have heard so much about. The Leon at Cannon Street was really easy and convenient to get to by tube; after leaving Cannon Street station and turning right, Leon was straight up ahead at the corner of the road. In terms of accessibility, the only potential difficulty I saw was the small step in front of the doorway which could cause problems with wheelchair access.

Inside the restaurant it was bright and well lit; the yellow and red paper lampshades hanging from the ceiling gave the place a sort of quirky feel and there was a whole wall dedicated to Leon (the founder of the chain) and his family’s holiday photographs, which I thought was a nice touch. The atmosphere was laid-back and pleasant; it felt like we were in a café.

After grabbing a menu from the counter and scanning it for a few minutes I opted for the sweet potato falafel with aioli (which comes with brown rice and slaw) and a blackcurrant quencher to drink. It all came to just over £7, which I was really happy with.

Overall, I think the Leon menu is very impressive. All the prices listed on the menu were reasonable, the majority of the dishes are low in saturated fat, and a lot of them are low in GL (Glycaemic Load) too. Leon’s seem committed to being green, using sustainable resources and all the meat products seem to come from specially selected farms. Gluten free, dairy free and wheat free items have been labelled clearly on the menu; I don’t personally have an allergy to any of the mentioned products, but if I had, the menu layout certainly would’ve made things easier for me. The cuisine itself is a mishmash of exotic flavours from different continents, with dishes from Morocco, Mexico, the Middle East, and India. There is the downside that there aren’t that many hot dishes on the menu to choose from (only two if you’re vegetarian).

A few minutes after ordering I got my food, which was all served in recyclable packaging and with plastic cutlery (they only use proper dishes and cutlery during the evening). The rice was a lot thicker in comparison to what I usually eat, nonetheless it tasted nice. The texture of the falafel was slightly dry on its own but was complemented very well by the aioli (a yoghurt and garlic sauce). On the whole, I enjoyed the meal. However, I couldn’t help thinking that it was lacking something in terms of flavour; in hindsight it might have been a good idea to add chilli sauce to it like it had suggested on the menu. The real star for me was the blackcurrant drink which tasted mouth-wateringly sweet and fresh, without tasting sugary.

After my healthy meal I was definitely feeling good about myself, so good in fact that I decided to treat myself to two desserts (which I did plan to share). I couldn’t leave Leon without having tasted their legendary brownies and I also bought the lemon and ginger crunch. The brownies were nutty, chocolaty and moist; a bit too nutty for my liking but considering Leon’s brownies are made with ground almonds instead of flour, I guess it made sense.  My taste buds weren’t too sure what to make of the lemon and ginger crunch at first but I gradually came to love the exciting, zingy flavour, and the extra kick that the ginger provided. I was completely stuffed, but happy by the end of it.

So in conclusion, does Leon actually provide fast food that leaves you feeling good? Definitely! And I would love to visit this restaurant again.

Note: To avoid disappointment it’s worth checking the opening times before you go as they vary from branch to branch; the Cannon Street branch is not open at all during the weekend and some of the others close relatively early.

Address: Leon Restaurant, 86 Cannon Street, London, EC4N 6HT
Booking/Enquiry Tel: 020 7623 9699
Website: www.leonrestaurants.co.uk

Article written by Sayrah Javed.