Finding an affordable, healthy and fast lunch in Dublin’s city centre isn’t an easy feat. With its overpopulation of salad and burrito bars, combined with the overall busyness of lunchtime rush hour, the experience of eating out for lunch is often stressful and dissatisfying. Leon, however, may provide something of a solution. Nestled in the centre of Temple Bar, with a 15% student discount, this new restaurant will be a sure staple of not only student dining, but the overall lunchtime movement.
“With a menu inspired by Mediterranean dishes and seasonal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant ingredients, it all sounds too good to be true.”
Leon’s tagline – “Naturally fast food” – is something of an oxymoron – how can fast food be natural, never mind healthy? With a menu inspired by Mediterranean dishes and seasonal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant ingredients, it all sounds too good to be true.
This May, Leon acquired the home of the once beloved Eager Beaver vintage store on Crown Alley, just behind the Central Bank in Temple Bar. This is Leon’s first Irish location, with 20 more planned for the future. The eatery found its origins in London in the early 2000s and was met with acclaimed success, which is something they hope to match in Dublin.
The restaurant can’t be missed, with its automatic front doors and bright exterior. It is an inviting, attractive space which boasts exceptional, friendly service, and you are met with warmth from the staff once you enter. Despite its fast food categorisation, Leon feels like something different. The atmosphere could be characterised as fun, fresh, and fast due to the efforts of the upbeat staff. The menu has a selection of vegan, gluten free and dairy free options, as well as regular lunch favourites including salads, burgers, chicken nuggets and chips. All calorie and allergy details can be found on their website menu and inside the restaurant itself.
“I was greeted by a happy team of three who threw out several recommendations for me to consider…”
I was greeted by a happy team of three who threw out several recommendations for me to consider, but in the end, I decided on the Chicken Kale Caesar Salad, some of their signature Baked Fries and an iced coffee. The grand total came to €12.95, not bad at all for lunch time and with the portion size of the salad, I could have easily gone without the chips and been satisfied. The extremely wide variety of lunch options can be a bit overwhelming when making a decision, given that it is a fast food restaurant, but the Chicken Kale Caesar Salad was a safe choice. Served with green lentils and a honey and mustard dressing, it is an ideal on the go lunch solution that at the very least matches the quality and size of other salad options in Dublin’s city centre.
Leon’s Baked Fries were slightly underwhelming with a standard similar to that of any fast food restaurant. However, the garlic aioli that accompanied them was the saving grace. An iced coffee set me back €2.95, which is excellent pricing, but it was soured by the single use plastic container it was served in, even though I was sitting in and would have willingly consumed it from a glass.
Leon’s prices are hugely competitive, with coffee and other hot drinks ranging from €1.95 to €3.45, while cold drinks including Kombuchas are similarly priced at €1.55 to €3.95. The burger selection, which starts from €6.25, features two chicken burgers (one Korean style) and one vegan burger, all of which can be served on gluten-free buns for an extra 95c. Grilled wraps and hot boxes all range from €4.75 to €7.45 in price, which is ideal for students. Chicken rice boxes, which include varieties such as Aioli Chicken and Chicken and Chorizo Club, are a bit more costly, at €7.95.
“Doing its part for the environment and current issues in Dublin, Leon uses compostable cutlery and is a charity partner of the Dublin Simon Community…”
Doing its part for the environment and current issues in Dublin, Leon uses compostable cutlery and is a charity partner of the Dublin Simon Community, while the restroom facility is spacious, unisex and disability friendly.
The overall dining experience was extremely pleasant. With free Wifi and comfy seats, the versatility of Leon allows it to be equally appropriate for meeting friends but also sitting with a laptop. Affordable breakfast and lunch deals provide an opportunity to eat healthy, fresh food faster at a lower price point than many of its competitors. The restaurant will surely be a favourite amongst students and locals alike.