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Leon – healthy fast food disappointment in Carnaby St

Leon should be a good place to eat. When it first opened it won the Observer Food Monthly Newcomer of the Year Award. Lots of people were talking about it. Fresh healthy food that isn’t overpriced and is very quick. Sounds like my cup of tea! We had to try it. We first went about a year ago and it was a bitterly disappointing experience – the food was just warm, the bowls it was served in were chipped, the service was haphazard and it wasn’t all that cheap in reality. We thought we’d try it again, perhaps it was an off day? They were expanding and maybe they’d sent some experienced staff to start up a new branch? Plus, everyone else seems to like Leon. So, we went yesterday evening to the the Carnaby St branch for a bite.

I like the decor, it’s warm, retro and quite casual. It’s cosy but not overly so. A little kitsch. It’s very well branded. We got a table after about 5 minutes and ordered pretty quickly from their springtime menu. It looked promising. The table was unfortunately dirty even though we had waited and watched them clean it. We went for the chorizo, aloo gobi, meatballs, healthy chicken nuggets and pilaff with a small carafe of house red & a beer. The food was served promptly but to our disappointment it was cold! Again. And the presentation was sloppy. There was food down the outside of two of the bowls. We called the waitress and explained that the food wasn’t that hot and she brought someone over who just didn’t believe us. The bowls were hot yes, but the food inside was just warm not hot. They took two bowls back to the kitchen to heat them up and in a display of how hot they now were dropped them on the table like hot coals. They came back and asked us how they were now and we explained that yes, those two were now hot but the other two were warm not hot. She shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Sigh. On the taste front, the chorizo and meatballs were tasty, particularly the chorizo and accompanying olives but the gobi was overly sweet and underspiced and the chicken was cold and gristly, the yoghurt served with it was a good accompaniment though.

We didn’t fancy following up with coffees and a dessert, we just wanted the bill so we could leave. Despite our complaints a hefty 12.5% was added to the bill (optional wasn’t indicated anywhere). I was tempted to ask them to remove it but I couldn’t be bothered. Given our experience it promised to be alot of hassle.

We did grab a brownie on the way out, and this, was actually very good. So, I won’t be going back, except maybe for a take-away brownie. I have been told that their salads are better but I think I’d prefer to go to Mildreds around the corner in future. Leon seems to be more about the business than the food.

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I like food. I like to make food. Eat food. Photograph food. Write about food. Mainly in London but when I am lucky or organised further afield.

4 Comments

  1. Ahhhh…Mildred’s how I miss you! Wait, that review was about Leon. Nevermind. Mildred’s is great!

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  2. Yeah, I am with you, Mildreds is a fantastic spot. Leon, unfortunately, wasn’t.

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  3. You should give them another chance! I love Leon, and have never had an experience like this at any of their locations. Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. I’d rather support the Leon’s of the world than other establishments.

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  4. Love Leon- would never go to sit down though. It’s definitely a grab and eat kind of place; their fries and alioli are delicious, best hummus ever and love their wraps even more. Super cheap too for lunch.

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