Saturday, 28 April 2012

Dinner with Leon

The Hub wanted to go shopping this afternoon and who was I to refuse? Ever the man for logistics, The Hub had it all planned out - coffee and cake at Starbucks and dinner out, with Leon.

What is Leon? Leon is basically a fast food restaurant. Just like McDonald's, there's no waiting staff, it's counter service only and food comes in boxes. It's  unlike any fast food restaurant I've been in, though, as  the decor is ecletic - retro Latino (I think) and kind of funky and the food is fresh and healthy! They pride themselves on sourcing food responsibly and seem to have garnered some excellent reviews.

Why Leon? Well, if you've never heard of Leon  (and you might not unless you live or work somewhere around London) they actually make it possible to eat out without having to ask too many awkward questions, because handily their menu can tell you at an instant(ish) if something is gluten or dairy free.

It is possible to view the menu online before you go, or grab a menu at the door (it looks something like a newspaper) so you can choose what you want before you go in, although you may change your mind, when you set eyes on the specials listed above the counter.

You can find out whether a dish is suitable by looking at the codes listed underneath each item on the menu. WF means wheat free, DF means gluten free, and * means gluten free! Simple isn't it?

The only thing we found odd about the menu was that the children's menu wasn't listed - you had to look at the board above the counter for that. Also missing off the menu were  a range of fruit and nuts as well as cakes and biscuits. All were clearly labelled as wheat, gluten or dairy free, but sadly (for me) there were none that were all three, apart from a packet of nuts!!

Our choice
Baby's box of tricks
The choices for children were simple - chicken, meat balls, fish fingers or falafels with either rice or fries. Falafels were off the menu for Baby, but everything else on the children's menu was dairy free (they must make special children's sauces, because the meatballs and chicken were not dairy free on the adult's menu). Knowing baby well, we chose her fish fingers and fries with peas. 

The fish finger was a good solid chunk of fish. The fries, we discovered, were all coated, which was perhaps why they weren't wheat/gluten free. Some fires on offer that were uncoated might have been a good idea, because although Baby ate most of her fries, she would've polished off the lot at McDonald's!

The Hub's choice came from the specials board. Not having any special dietary requirements, he could have had anything, but chose a dairy and gluten free special - Moroccan Chicken Curry. It looked, and tasted, good (I tried some). The chicken was tender and the curry sauce was not too over powering.

The Hub's choice
Beside the special, there was only one choice for me, being both dairy and gluten free, and that was salmon with rice, in a 'hot box'. It's a good job I like salmon! I have to say, though, the salmon was perfectly cooked and the brown rice had a nice nutty texture and flavour to it. Accompanying the salmon was a tasty tartar sauce and a fresh and crunchy coleslaw.

My choice
The corn 'off the cob' I ordered as a side, was lovely. It wasn't bog standard but sweet and carefully flavoured. 

If you're a big eater, the portions weren't enormous, but we were certainly satisfied with what we had.

I believe there's a different choice of drinks, if you actually get there after 6pm, but arriving early (in the interests of feeding Baby) we satisfied ourselves with the real lemonade, which was tangy and refreshing.

We didn't get round to sampling the coffee, but there's always a next time! 

What about the price?
Prices are not listed online, but to give to a rough idea of how much things cost, The Hub thought he paid a bit more than he would have paid for a meal at McDonalds. However he paid less than he would if we had gone to Wagamamas and was happy with that, especially as the food was good.

My meal broke down as follows:
Salmon Hot Box    £7.95
Corn 'off the cob' £1.95
Fresh Lemonade   £1.75

Anything to add?
Although we all had something to satisfy our hunger, a few more dairy free options on the menu would be welcome. And, personally speaking (as someone who is also gluten free) it would have been nice to have had the option of gluten free bread (at least to dip in the hummus) but it's good to know that if we are out and about in London, there's somewhere else that we can now go to eat.

Update 2015: 
Leon are ever expanding. they now have branches at Heathrow, Birmingham and next year should be opening some more outside of London. Huzzah!

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