Our Dear Old LEON
LEON’s an old faithful when it comes to eating out in Brighton. They opened their doors way back in 2016 when I had two tinies, at the point when you need a tight game plan for day-trips to Brighton. And when you find something that works, you hold it dear.
Sussex Born & Fed Gold
LEON made it into the Sussex Born & Fed Gold Guide last year. I know, I know they’re a chain and not a local Sussex inde. But they’re in the guide because they’re super, super reliable as a place to grab healthy food for all the family. So much better than Costa or the Golden Arches.
There’s heaps of choice including loads of dairy-free options, which is perfect for The Husband. They have a brilliant kids menu. The Girls never complain when we eat here. It goes without saying that I’m happy grabbing lunch at LEON.
Organic coffee, organic milk, quick food for kids, meals that contain lots of veg, a carefully curated selection of treats at the counter. Tasty wraps, salads, chillis and curries. Earnest values. LEON tick so many of our boxes.
It’s roomy. There’s a mix of big and small tables. I love the comfy chairs by the window. It’s a great spot for people watching.
When we were there for a child-free lunch last week, it was spotless. The service was lightening fast and friendly. Pictures were being dusted, tables cleared in the blink of an eye. In fact it was all so efficient we’re still wondering if they were due an inspection or royal visit from head office…
The restaurant has a trendy chain vibe. It’s right next to the Churchill Centre, so it’s usually pretty buzzy with a mix of people. There are always families with small people. You won’t feel alone if you’re taking kids. You certainly won’t feel out of place if you have to wrangle a tantrum.
The Food & Drink
Kids can choose from hearty little breakfast pots: porridge with fruit or egg and soldiers. For lunch, boxes are well balanced meals, something like grilled chicken, brown rice, veg and homemade ketchup or an avocado and halloumi burger with baked potato fries. The girls really enjoy the food at LEON. And I love that lunches include at least 2 portions of fresh veg.
For grown-ups there’s stacks of choice. I’m partial to the Halloumi Wrap or Brazilian Black Bean chilli. The Husband loves the Lucky Katsu box, vegan Love Burger and baked fries. As fast food goes it’s tasty, fresh and feels nutritious.
There’s a decent selection of sweet treats, without having an overflowing counter. The Husband’s fave is the Jaffa Cake: a grown-up tasting vegan chocolate dipped bundt cake. I love the vegan billionaire square. As do the girls. We’ve dramatically reduced our sugar intake this Jan, so these are all on the more indulgent end of things, especially when you consider a child’s daily sugar allowance. But they’re absolutely delicious and have a lot less sugar than a Costa muffin. Or there’s fruit. And I applaud the decision to have a hearty fruit bowl on the counter.
It’s hard to compete with coffee in Brighton. LEON’s coffee isn’t amazing compared to places like Pelicano and Bond St. Coffee but it’s still decent. And let’s face it, you’re here to eat on the fly because you or your kids are hungry. There’s no question that a flat white in LEON is vastly more pleasant than coffee at other big name fast food joints nearby. It’s organic. And made with organic milk or your choice of oat / coconut mylk. I’m a big fan of their mango and passionfruit kefir and own brand fizzy mango and orange, O’Joy. Plus they have lots of jugs of water with handfuls on mint on the counter to help yourself to for free.
They’re always pleasant if a little harassed. There’s a really lovely American lady (I don’t know her name) who’s just super cool and so unflappable. Ultimate goals!
The Verdict: LEON, Brighton
I’ll always have a soft spot for LEON because their values and ethos are so closely aligned with our family’s. We have several of their recipe books. We’re LEON people. And no, it’s not the most gastronomically sophisticated menu or the best restaurant in Brighton by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s a top stop for families with young children or anyone looking to eat on the fly without all of the usual junk food problems. They cater for lots of food allergies; have a great kids menu; serve organic coffee and milk; and they do it with a smile. That has to be a great fast food option, AmIRight?