A big hit throughout central London, Leon's breakfast offering juggles its healthy eating philosophy with a wide choice. Tom Vaughan reports.
"The ethos has always been healthy eating, but it's always had to taste good, too," says Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedy. And this belief is prevalent in the restaurant chain's breakfast menu, where punters can grab a healthy start to the day from one of its nine London sites.
Muffins and pasties are on at a competitive price. A dark chocolate muffin costs £2.10 to take away, as does a Hello Sunshine wholewheat muffin of seeds, spices, raisins, walnuts, grated carrot and apple. For those with a heartier appetite, there is a choice of four baps: sausage (£2.20), bacon (£2.20), roast mushroom with plum tomatoes (£2) or the full whack - mushrooms, tomatoes, sausages and bacon (£2.90).
"It's grilled meat, but it's a really great wholemeal bap, and bacon that's grilled, not fried. Its still a bacon sarnie, but it's not loaded up with saturated fat," says McEvedy. All the meat is sourced from Devon farms.
It's in the drinks, though, and the affordability of smoothies that can often reach extortionate prices in the capital, that Leon's breakfast offering comes into its own. Apple, ginger and goji berry smoothie (£2.50) and the Breakfast Power Smoothie of organic oats, yogurt, stringybark honey and banana (£2.30), are cases in point, both almost a breakfast in themselves.
The highlight of the juice selection is lemon, ginger and mint (£1.15), where the ginger and mint are left to infuse first, then topped up with freshly squeezed lemon juice and water.
The various options are marked with symbols, so customers can determine good sugars, low animal fat, vegetarian, and wheat-, lactose- and gluten-free items.
McEvedy is adamant that Leon can continue to improve. "It's not rocket science," she says. "You just have to keep your mind on the seasons, serve what people want to eat, and not get complacent."