This french chain opened up pretty recently in London, it’s known in Paris for it’s mussels (cooked and flavoured every which way) and it’s new location at Cambridge Circus must have been pretty calculated as the only other restaurant I can think of in London that specialises in mussels is a mere stone’s throw away from this new competitor (i’m speaking of Belgo of course).
So, does Leon cut it?
Well, first of all there are a few things that are of worth to note.
* Leon is part of Taste London – so if you have a tastecard you can get 50% off your food bill, pretty good going as the pots of mussels are around £14 a pop.
* They give you unlimited ‘fries’ with mussels – this is great, however these are by no means fries, they are FAT chips. Now I don’t know about you, but I like fries to be skinny.
* They serve bread (obviously good that this is a bonus and free) however it isn’t nice crusty french bread that is all fluffy on the inside, it is a sort of baguette that’s a bit tough to chew and doesn’t have the flavour of french bread, more like cold ciabatta AND they don’t serve it with butter (!!!!!!)
So, as you can see there are pros and cons. The setting was lovely, it was a hot evening and you can sit outside, (although you can only reserve for inside) it’s set back from the road enough for the traffic not to be a nuisance too.
The service was good, a little slow at times, like when asking for a sauce or another drink etc, but on the whole they were ok.
So crunch time…the mussels themselves. I chose the Leon de Bruxelles mussels – their signature recipe (in a sauce of white wine & creme fraiche with celery and shallots) The sauce was really nice, it was flavoursome and there was only the hint of the celery taste that complemented the sauce well. However, the mussels themselves were quite small and although perfectly acceptable, they weren’t fresh and really big, meaty and orange. Big portion though!
Leon de Bruxelles Mussels
Bread & ‘Fries’
I’ve grown up waitressing at restaurants that served mussels as standard and they were huge and fresh and tasted absolutely delectable. So, while I think Leon’s pretty good, it definitely isn’t on a par with beachside pubs and local eateries that get their ‘moules frites’ down to a tee.
Overall it’s pretty good, something a bit different and the setting is nice but you can do better.
Leon de Bruxelles
24 Cambridge Circus, London, WC2H 8AA
020 7836 3500