LEON, Brighton

by Eshé Brown
LEON Brighton

I’ve eaten my way through the LEON Autumn menu so you don’t have to

It’s a great concept “naturally fast food, that both tastes good and does you good”, so I can see why people were hyped that LEON was coming to Brighton. The restaurant chain focuses on seasonal, fresh, nutritious, fast food and opened back at the end of September with an ‘all guns blazing’ PR push – its team cycling around the city handing out vouchers and free ice lollies, as well as outreaching to local bloggers, like myself.

Leon Brighton, North Street

Healthy fast food chain LEON joined our high street in September

Leon Brighton, North Street

LEON Brighton is the first branch to have digital menus

Since the big bang launch, I’ve visited five times. Each time making a concerted effort to find something different from the snazzy digital menu boards, in order to get a clear picture of LEON’s whole offering.

Working my way through breakfast baps, salad boxes, hot boxes, wraps, burgers and a number of side orders and drinks I’m now ready to give you my thoughts.

Visit 1

Total cost: £12.70

  • Chargrilled Chicken Aioli Hot Box – 629 calories, £6.95
  • Baked LEON fries – 302 calories, £2.20
  • Blueberry Elderflower Kefir – 173 calories, £3.55
Leon Chicken Aioli Hot Box

Chicken Aioli Hot Box

My first visit didn’t impress. There was a lot of rice used to fill up the box and I felt LEON could have been a bit more generous with the chicken pieces, which were moist but small. It was also bland, possibly due to the reduced use of salt.  On the other hand, the slaw in the box had a great crunch to it indicating it was freshly made that day. Inside the box there was also a wedge of lemon to add more flavour if you wish too – a thoughtful extra touch. I wasn’t a fan of the baked chips but I’m not a fan of birdseye waffles, which they were similar to. The Blueberry Elderflower Kefir was a strange drink. A watery, milky mix with a fizz to it with very little blueberry flavour to it. Needless to say, it didn’t do it for me.

Visit 2

Total cost: £7.60

  • Fish Finger Wrap – 681 calories, £4.95
  • Sweet & Salt Proper Popcorn – 129 calories, £1.05
  • Sparkling Orange and Mango Drink – 73 calories, £1.60
Leon Takeaway

LEON to-go

This was almost a winner but unfortunately, the lady serving me that day incorrectly told me there would be ketchup in the wrap. Once back at work and tucking in I realised there wasn’t. Where food is concerned it’s always best to manage my expectations, not raise them, so I was pretty disappointed to find this wasn’t what was promised. Instead of the LEON-made ketchup that’s in other dishes, there was a homemade tartar sauce, which, give it its dues was well flavoured but wasn’t what I’d wanted. The portion of the fish finger swaddled within the wrap was generous and overall filling enough for lunch. It kept its heat well too, even after a 10-minute walk back to the office. The ‘proper corn’ was delicious.

Visit 3

Total cost: £3.75

  • Egg & Bacon Breakfast Bap – 467 calories, £3.75
LEON breakfast

Hangover cure

On my way to work and shockingly hungover I remembered LEON was open for breakfast from 7:30am – recovery plan sorted. My body was craving salt and carbs, so I ignored the healthier breakfast options such as porridge and yoghurt and went straight for the bacon and egg muffin. It was inoffensive but nothing stand-out. The distinguishing factors being the 50/50 white and wholemeal toasted bap, the addition of a few leaves of spinach and the LEON-made ketchup. Mind you, I’ve had much nicer toasted breakfast baps with handmade ketchup around the corner at Cafe Coho.

Visit 4

Total cost: £9.55

  • The Chicken Burger – 460 calories, £5.75
  • Baked LEON fries – 302 calories, £2.20
  • Sparkling Apple Juice – 73 calories, £1.60
Leon Chicken Burger

Less calories than you realise

It’s hard to believe that this has fewer calories that the Chicken & Aioli Hot Box – but it does – that’s rice for you. It also happens to be one of the tastiest dishes on the menu. The butterfly chicken thigh was as moist as anything and the accompanying olive oil herb mayonnaise was as punchy as promised. This I will go back for again.

Visit 5

Total cost: £10.45

  • LEON x Gizzi Chicken Satay Salad – 313 calories, £6.45
  • Orange and Mango Juice- 73 calories, £1.60
  • Fresh Slaw – 134 calories, £2.40
LEON x Gizzi Chicken Satay Salad

LEON x Gizzi Chicken Satay Salad

The flavours were very good in this last salad box and just like the hot box slaw, the salad was crunchy and fresh. However, I was left feeling hungry, despite ordering an extra side dish. The fizzy orange and mango juice were much tastier and healthier alternatives to a Coke or Fanta.


RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: Awaiting inspection 

I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t eat here again because admittedly, it is convenient and fast most of the time. There are also one or two dishes I did really enjoy. However, you can get far bigger and better value salads at my two favourite independents, Eat Naked and Foodilic. Both of which are within 10 minutes from LEON and will always be my first choice for that sort of food centrally in town.

The promo video claims food within 45 seconds and the majority of times I’ve visited that has been true, except my last visit when there was a huge Deliveroo order, meaning I had to wait 10 minutes. The staff are friendly enough when not too stretched, but I really don’t understand why they make one poor member stand by the door and greet people – it’s unnecessary and just makes me uncomfortable.

Saying that LEON still does a lot of things right and it’s good to see it’s leading other chains by the right example, offering healthy alternatives, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Organic and Fairtrade coffee and a menu that caters well for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free diets.

Need to know:

71-74 North St, Brighton, BN1 1ZA
01273 776995

What’s your opinion of LEON? Do you welcome it or do you stick loyally to your independents?  Leave me a comment and let me know. And, if you found this review useful at all please hit the heart button below to let me know.

*Disclaimer: I was given vouchers to review LEON and I paid for my breakfast bap myself, but as always my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest view on the whole experience.

You may also like


Charlotte November 30, 2016 - 3:50 PM

I got the Hot Chicken box, and was disappointed to get leg and thigh meat rather than breast. The brand is supposed to be healthy, and while it is, it’s not very “lean”. So for people trying to trim down, I wouldn’t recommend it to be honest.

But overall, it was tasty and reasonably priced

Eshé Brown December 11, 2016 - 8:53 AM

Hi Charlotte, good intel! Thanks for commenting Ex

Roberto December 1, 2016 - 6:09 PM

I enjoyed León in London un various branches across town despite its small portions which leave me feeling hungry most of the times.

I agree with your comments on the quality of the food but I would like to add that the Brighton restaurant although in a great Central location is very small and lacks the wow factor other branches have in the capital.

Would I like a León in every corner? The answer is no. I do prefer independents in general. Would I like the one and only León in Brighton to be bigger and better like the itsu next door? Definitely yes, as u mentioned in your review leon can be convinient fast ‘healthy’ food but unfortunately the long queues and lack of dinning space is a put off for me, specially at that price.

My opinion unless you are short of time and just fancy a quick snack go and enjoy a proper meal elsewhere.

Eshé Brown December 11, 2016 - 8:55 AM

Hi Roberto, thanks for commenting. I found it hard to get a seat each time I went in. It always pains me when they keep the door wide open too, so if the only seat is by the window is left you get pretty cold!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.