The Spitalfield branch of Leon is the fourth in the chain to open in London and is now an important part of the healthy fast-food revolution. The Leon concept is simple: good, wholesome, ethically-sourced food at reasonable prices, delivered in bright, funky packages.
The newest branch of Leon sits in a row of restaurants whose tables spill onto the street at the edge of the market. The venue is large but not without its charm – inside, it's all about mixing and matching with spread-out tables, red retro sofas, patchwork patterned stools and arty photos covering the walls. Outside, there's more of the same and you'll be in a prime position to watch the browsing market crowds.
There's an almost studied lack of pretension. You'd be as happy to come here alone as with a friend or in a group, and there's next to no chance of being hurried from your table after the last bite's been taken. This is not the place for a lingering romantic meal, more an informal lunch-time date, or catch-up.
Local, healthy, seasonal food, sustainably sourced – that, in a nutshell, is Leon's philosophy. Hardly rocket science, but a concept that's now being grasped by restaurant and cafe owners across the city.
A large, bright and cheery menu comes clearly marked with vegetarian, wheat free, dairy and lactose free options, as well as dishes that are marked as good carbs. It's also good to see a restaurant sourcing sustainable fish, the menu highlighting its omega 3 and 6-heavy properties.
The menu changes in the evening but doesn't differ hugely from the lunch-time options. There's also a tempting list of desserts, priced at half of what you'd expect to pay for food of this quality.
The Smoothie menu comes highly recommended and the focus isn't alcohol. Despite this, there's a reasonably priced wine list, with a selection of white or red, glasses or bottles. You can also pop in for afternoon tea: there's an impressive list to choose from, including options like camomile and fresh ginger to wild berries, rooibus, jasmine and fresh mint.
The Last word
Affordable, wholesome, sustainable food that changes with the seasons – what's not to like? If the company can bring its recycling credentials up to the same standards as those it has on buying locally, Leon's eco-credentials will be as impressive as its food.