Friday, December 10, 2010

Leon : causing a stir in cheap fast food?

I have always been wary of restaurant chains and likewise with Leon. It took until a suggestion from a friend to head there for a quick dinner before hitting the movies that I finally see myself stepping into the canary wharf branch.

My friend knew to use the right words: healthy fast food, have various options available (e.g. wheat free, low GI...). When we stepped in on a Friday evening, there was quite a crowd with only one empty table remaining and a long snake of hungry diners waiting to place their eat-in and takeaway orders.

I have to say that my first Leon experience (and still my only one) was a mixed one.

Let’s get on to the food first. It was great to see a menu which details out other options available (Low GI, wheat free, vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free). The variety is enough to satisfy even the most picky of us. You have a selection of salads and wraps, hot savoury meat and vegetables dishes.

I went for the Moroccan meatballs with Slaw and Brown Rice.

My hungry friend had the Spanish pork and bean soup followed by the same as the rest of us.

The Moroccan meatballs were tasty and lovely. Brown rice was too al dente though, it was hard. Crunch crunch crunch!

Now Leon’s vision is to provide healthy fast food and you can easily see the nutrition data on their website. My Moroccan meatballs as a snack was a mere 198 calories which comes up trumps for those who are counting their calories. Go for their dinner Moroccan meatballs and you are looking at 785 calories. I was shocked that the brown rice came up to 312 calories, watch out dieters! Spanish pork and bean soup is 199 calories.

Looking at their breakfast menu, most seems ideal but watch out with the porridge section, the porridge of the gods comes in at 542 calories with the minimum plain porridge coming in at 305 calories. OK, enough about calories, there are enough information provided by Leon for people to make informed choices, Kudos!

Now on to my other non positive experience.

While waiting for the remaining last dining party to arrive, we were seated and given the dinner menu to peruse. With only 30 minutes to spare for dinner with one late party who hasn’t arrived. We decided to opt for the take away option when we heard the table next to us asking how long more before the rest of their food arrived. This coupled with the cashiers shouting out that everything is going to take 10 – 15 minutes for takeaway orders, you can imagine our anxiousness about being able to finish our dinner in time to catch our movie.

So when we queued and was asked if we were dining in our taking away, we said we would take away. 10 minutes later, our orders were packed and served to us. By this time late friend has arrived and the queue and the all the eat-in diners have paid and left with only two tables remaining, us and another table.

Suddenly it seems that the mad rush and crowd has dissipated and it seems that we would have enough time to eat our food. So we all started eating out of our take away boxes when midway through the manager it seems came up to us and using a very telling off tone, said Guys, when I asked you if you were eating in or take away you said that you are taking away. We have a special dinner service here and eating your food in take away boxes is going to spoil the ambience for the diners who are eating in.

Now, while I appreciate where the manager is coming from, I think the tone used was unnecessary. Firstly, there was only one large menu to see in the store which was the take-away menu. It wasn’t even obvious that dinner was a special service and that take away patrons are not allowed to eat in the evenings when I see lots of people doing it during the weekends. My late friend was not even asked which option he wanted when he placed his order.

When we mentioned that we chose the take away because of what we witnessed earlier with another table asking how long more for their food and cashiers mentioning that even take away orders require a substantial wait and we were rushing for time. He backed off. Regardless, he has managed to spoil our mood and we definitely did not appreciate a telling off when we were unaware.

While the food is fine and I think is a great option for fast food, the service comprises the other half of what makes a dining experience. In this instance, Leon at Canary Wharf you should make it clear for diners before starting to tell them off!

Leon on Urbanspoon


  1. I was not overly impressed with the food at Leon. I tried the Carnaby Street branch and thought it was very so-so.
    I do not see what all the hype is about. I think it is more PR than good food, but that is the norm these days.
    Wot film did u go see ?

  2. Mzungu - Agree. I went to watch Despicable Me. =)

  3. I actually really like Leon! Good food on the cheap. The sweet potato falafel (as well as the wrap version) is my favourite :)

  4. Catty - I haven't tried their wraps or sweet potato falafel. Will have to give it a try next time.


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