So I promised this blog would be about other people’s food as well as my own and last night gave me the perfect opportunity to put this into practice. Before I got married last year my lovely girlies took me out for a pre Hen, pre Wedding hoopla beginning with dinner at a place called Leon (I had never heard of it nor been) and ending with Dirty Dancing in the Westend:) A glorious night was had by all and I was particularly impressed with this little establishment, which served quality but cheap as chips food. It’s a little bit like a fast food joint but there’s nothing greasy or soggy or even mass produced about this grub. It tasted fresh, flavourful and it all came served in recycled boxes. Add to that the fact that you wrote down your own order using the menu card and pencil’s provided and within minutes (and I do mean minutes) your meal has arrived as if it has been cooked with as much love and care as you’d find in any family run business. The place itself feels like a little bistro with a hotch potch of nik naks, tealights on tables and a wonderful warm red on the walls that succeeds in engulfing you and creating a cosy atmosphere.

You can imagine how excited I was then to introduce my hubbie to this wonderful ‘fast food’ experience. I had regailed the whole story with such enthusiasm that he was more than a little intrigued to try this place out. Something is  different this time, however, as we enter through the door. No greeting from the waitress, in fact I do believe she actively blanked us. Do we seat ourselves? Wait. Nothing. I guess we seat ourselves. We find a corner – I do love eating in corners, don’t you? I just hate feeling exposed when I want to chow down. We soon cotton on to what’s happening, you go to the counter and order for yourself, much like in a McDonalds and the penny finally drops – only waitress service at dinnertime and we are just on the cusp of that. We grab a menu and peruse the delights on offer. Gordon Ramsey recommends the meatballs, decision promptly made.

I’m uncomfortable though and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t know whether it was the unwelcoming feeling when we entered or the staff members who are clearly on a break and have pitched up beside us with feet on chairs, chatting loudly to the rude waitress. You should know, I need to feel relaxed when I eat and I did not feel relaxed, not by a long stretch. My hubbie, who’s still recovering from his rotten cold bless him, is also distinctly on edge. First impressions are not good I’m told:( Anyway, we order: I go for the morrocan meatballs and fresh lemonade and hubbie has the chilli chicken and power smoothie.

It looks good but already we’re having problems getting at the damn food because of the annoying boxes, which have flaps that jut out and make eating very difficult. It’s luke warm too. We eat with gusto, however, because we are absolutely starving having only had fruit and yoghurt all day – we’d been saving ourselves for a nice meal and from what I could remember the portions were decent. That is still true. All dishes come with rice and slaw, which is fine except that the slaw is sliced in such a way that it is a hindrance to eat – do they not want us to be fed? Uber long strings of cabbage are tres, tres annoying. The peas are a strange addition but they don’t bother so much as the distinct lack of flavour in general. Ditto all of this for my husbands meal – he described the chicken as being a bit like kebab meat but luckily for him he is a major kebab fan. My lemonade was fine but needed to be sweeter although I must admit my meatballs were wonderfully moist and the sauce was moreish.

Now, this sounds like a scathing review and it kinda is but funnily enough I would go back because I am ever hopeful that they were just having an ‘off ‘ night. I know there was a change of shift and they were preparing for the dinner service but is it too much to ask for a hello or even an acknowledgement of your existence? Is it too much to ask that the staff don’t sprawl themselves out beside diners and act as if it’s some kind of youth club. Even McDonalds can serve their food moderately warm and ironically the employees are more attentive – surely that can’t be right? I’m pretty sure whoever owns or runs this place would not condone any of this and because of my previous wonderful experience I am willing to be proved wrong. I will visit again but this will be their final chance to redeem themselves. Leon, I hope you are listening.

I ate at The Strand Branch of Leon, in Aldwych, London on Thursday 25th February 2010.

p.s. apologies for the poor quality photos, I had to use the iphone because my camera ran out of battery!