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26 September 2005

Leon (Ludgate Circus)

Small things have large consequences.  None more so, than the decision today to cross the street 100m earlier than I would normally.  The consequence being that I spotted a sign for Leon.  I was very very excited because Leon on Great Marlborough Street is an excellent bar/take-away/sandwich bar/fast food restaurant.  It's so good it won The Observer's New Restaurant of the Year Award earlier this year.

The thing that sets Leon apart is the high quality of food and reasonable price.  They are obsessed by quality and seasonality - the front page of their website is all about what's going on this season and what foods you can eat.  Although I like Pret and others like it, the food's not quite as delicious as the various wraps and salads I've had at Leon in Gt Marlborough St.


As for my serendipitous crossing of the road, it turned out that Leon on Ludgate Circus has only just opened up.  I think that today was its first full day of trading, a view compounded by spotting Katie Derham, ITV anchorwoman and wife of co-owner John Vincent, in the restaurant. 

The Ludgate Circus branch is more of a bar than the West End restaurant.  It's got a different drinks licence which means it is actually a bar and doesn't have to serve food with drinks.  Although, given the usually high quality of food I don't reckon they'll have a problem shifting some plates of fodder as the City boys down their Cruzcampos.  And Cuba is a big theme here.  Whether in the 'old-skool' advertising literature, or the various names of drinks, the owners have clearly tried to inject a bit of Latin flavour into what would otherwise be an everyday bar / lunch joint.

The eagle-eyed will notice that I haven't put any stars up in the title of this post.  That is not because it doesn't warrant any, it is simply because I went on opening day and not everything was as slick as it might have been and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

The falaffel wrap I had didn't really taste of much and the server had no clue how to use the till.  But I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I reckon that the swiftness that the manager came over to sort out the till problem is indicative of good things to come.  I think the kitchen needs to find its feet, I also think that as they get busier and food spends less time sitting around, it will all improve.  To that end, this is less a review of the place and more a plea to go and help them sort through these issues and make it a better place for the rest of us (I sound like Bono or Chris Martin, agh).  In order to fulfil my part of the deal, I will have a few more tastings there this week and let you know.  I have high hopes.

Leon, 12 Ludgate Circus, London, EC4M 7LQ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7489 1580

Google Maps
Google Earth (download)

What others think
The Times - Giles Coren wants Leon's kids

Reviews of the Gt Marlborough Street branch
The Independent - A really happy meal
The Guardian - Gloriously civilised...but genuinely is a fast-food operation


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