Wednesday 10 September 2014

Restaurant review: Canteen, Spitalfields

When you have a new member of your team and he's meeting his new colleagues for the first time, you want to go for lunch somewhere that will cover all the bases. It can be very awkward if you are presented with a menu that has nothing you really like, either because it's very limited, or a bit off the wall, or it's all fish and you don't eat seafood. With this in mind, my colleagues decided to book Canteen in nearby Spitalfields for lunch with our new recruit, and everyone was happy with the choice.

The restaurant is in the covered part of Spitalfields market, so while we sat outside the restaurant, we weren't actually al fresco. Canteen describes itself as a British-led restaurant, with "honest food that is naturally sourced". In keeping with the British theme, there is one entire section of the menu dedicated to pies - the fillings change daily, but there is always a vegetable and meat option. Bar snacks include crackling, Twiglets, pork pie and sausage roll and among the main courses are sausage and mash, fish and chips and ham and cheddar ploughman's. There's even a roast with all the trimmings every Wednesday as well as Sunday It's not all hearty meat though; there is a salad section to the menu, and a grill section which offers chicken and fish. The all-day breakfast menu also looks quite appealing; with bubble and squeak or a fishfinger sandwich you're back to the traditional British theme but there's also eggs benedict, florentine or royale. Puddings - not desserts, note - are also traditionally British in theme, including Eton mess and raspberry and almond trifle.

 I was in the mood for a burger but strangely, that is one thing they don't have. Instead, as I love fish, I plumped for the fish burger with tartare sauce and hand-cut chips (£11). It tasted very good but the fish came in the form of three small pieces in batter - rather than anything burger shaped, and compared to the fish burger I ate at Inn the Park, I thought the batter was unnecessary too. Being three pieces, they kept falling out of the bun; and the bun itself started to break apart as I was eating it. You really want a bun that will hold together when you eat a burger, and when you can't easily pick it up that rather defeats the object. For that reason I wouldn't order it again, though I would go back to Canteen.

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