Your high school canteen was probably one of the worst things about your day; the trials and tribulations of trying to find a seat, the overcooked and over-salted food, or worse – your own miserable packed lunch. How did canteens become cool? Am I the only one who's reminded of school or work when I'm in one? I'm taken to Canteen at the Royal Festival Hall during a wretchedly cold and rainy day. We have to queue up, and then get directed to a table that we have to share with another dude and his friend. They exchange sarcastic "oh great" expressions with one another, and flash us "you can't sit with us" looks that make us feel awkward as we get settled. So far, so school.
So many people have recommended this chain to me. It's great! I'm told, the food is amazing. Canteen prides itself on being unashamedly British and unapologetically nostalgic, so I'm picturing a big plate of soggy cabbage for some reason. I order the vegetarian dish of the day which is butternut squash pie with chips and greens, and a deliciously thick onion gravy. The pie is beautiful, the chips are okay. The greens are super fresh, but covered in so much butter. On the whole it's a really nice meal, very British, not too stodgy. I'd switch the chips for mash, and keep those greens clean if I could do it again.
I couldn't resist getting a smoothie, a weird combination with pie I know… but this was insanely good! Banana, oats, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon. Utterly creamy and (hopefully) nourishing. For dessert we tried the sticky toffee pudding (super rich, but tasty. It really needed some cream or ice-cream, though), and the chocolate mousse. It looked like an Angel Delight (remember those?) and came in cute little glass dish, very reminiscent of school dinners.
If you like traditional dishes, or want to show some out-of-towners typical British fayre, this is the place to take them. As canteens go, Canteen is far swishier, and the food is good. When you're finished you can pop to the South Bank and stare at the Thames in the pouring rain for the ultimate British experience.
Have you tried Canteen? What do you think of canteen-style places in general? Let me know in the comments below x