Leon, 12 Ludgate Square, Blackfriars, EC4M 7LQ (and 8, soon to be 9 other venues in London)

When I used to work by Spitalfields market, Leon was a mainstay for lunch. I had the superfood salad with various green things and cheese, thank god for the cheese. But being a chain and mostly lunch-orientated, it had never struck me as a particularly exciting dinner choice.

But there were two very good reasons that I went with Giovanna and Tallulah last week. We had a booking at Zucca but between the 3 of us we were unable to consume gluten, alcohol or carbs, so it seems a shame to waste an amazing Italian meal on salad. Also, I’m Scottish and we’re all skint and I liked the 40% off voucher you get when you join as a member. I have to say dieting and being skint don’t make for a very fun lifestyle, I pray for the day that we can again lunch on burgers and pasta and malbec, but that day is not yet here. Close though…

It turns out Leon is a good choice for supper. The Blackfriars branch was a little on the chilly side and a bit empty but the staff were lovely and they did a decent chardonnay served in little tumblers (the HPL was allowed alcohol bien sur). The food – and we got tons of it – was actually bursting with flavour and rich and hearty and, best of all, seemingly healthy.

We had grilled halloumi, hot grilled chorizo, Moroccan meatballs, chilli chicken (YUM), sunshine salad, slaw and slow cooked pork jambalaya, which all came in little tapas plates (we ordered about 3 each). Perfect to share and the best thing was that all this food plus a drink each came to only £10 each. Recession-tastic. It’s not a long, leisurely, romantic dinner (oh how I miss those) but it’s great food, simple and easy. Perfect for a quick after work bite or a catch-up with dieting girlfriends. And don’t worry, the HPL is single-handedly back to eating again – this month I’ve already been to Fernandez & Leluu, Edinburgh’s The Kitchin and the Sheep’s Heid - posts coming soon!

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