I've eaten here several times - and have enjoyed every meal. As a tourist seeking some classic british fare - this place did the trick.
Things I recommend highly:
- Salmon on Crumpet
- The meat pie of the day
- Any of the breakfast dishes
- a "Hot" ginger beer - make sure to tip it before pouring, the hottness seems to sink to the bottom.
I used to like Canteen. It's been a safe choice for decent food for a long time. I assume its targeted to the West London group of people, John Lewis and Waitrose shoppers.
The food has been consistently decent, albeit with a lightly pinched price tag. I've experienced a few other branches around and this one wasn't up to the expected standard.
It was packed during Saturday lunchtime, but we managed to get a booth for two within a few minutes. Sat down, got us the wine and things became easier onwards.
Effectively we ordered food and we begun to wait. 20 minutes later and the waiter informs us there's a small delay as the kitchen is extremely busy. Another glass of wine down, we're both mellower and we're still waiting. We're now 45 minutes post-order. Surprise surprise, food arriving.
Sorry Canteen, you failed me. My sausages and mash were boring. I was bored halfway but I had to eat cause the alcohol made me hungry. It was sad. I pulled a rather sad face as I finished up. I noticed the plate was hot - could it be that Canteen, a purveyor of fresh food, all home-made has actually microwaved my food? I couldn't really tell but it didn't taste as fresh as I remember it being at the Canary Wharf branch. The sausages were tough, not seasoned and generally tasteless. Like I've bought Richmond sausages from the supermarket. The mash tasted like it had been made by potatoes rather than that sachet my local tescos sells.
I've had some of my friends chicken. It's chicken. It was OK. No seasoning and really light on the flavour. Nothing spectacular.
I don't get the fuss about it anymore. The crowd that goes there likes it, obviously as every branch is packed daily. But I'm over Canteen and I'm not sure whether I'll ever return.
I have to say, the staff here were brilliant. I sat outside with my friend just having (scrummy!) coffee, and even though lots of people arrived for lunch and it was a beautiful day, they didn't hurry us up or make us feel that we had to order food at all. In fact, we were so engrossed that it took us longer than it should for us to realise that we should probably give our table up. But at no point did they even hint at it.
Oh, and they serve skimmed milk!!
Thanks Canteen - very very classy of you.
I came to this location of a client meeting. The reason I give it 5 stars is that they let us sit here for 2 hours while we only had coffee which is a rarity for London establishments.
I have eaten the food at the Spitalfields location, so anyone reading my review.. the food is good. It's mostly breakfast food which isn't to my personal taste, but it's good.
Like most of my relationships, I didn't come to Canteen with high expectations. Unlike most of my relationships, I left completely impressed! While Canteen isn't quite 'the one' for me, it certainly is, ahem, worth another visit... and often.
My servers were anything but aloof and by the end of my 3-hour coffee-turned-work-station-turned-lunch meeting, I knew most of them by name. The venue itself is nice and airy with plenty of window seating, communal tables, 2-tops and even a rather comfortable bar. Plus there's free wifi. I would highly recommend this as a central meeting point - my tablemate was making a skype call to Singapore and apparently the connection was a-ok for that!
The one star off is for the prices which I do feel are a tad high. An 8oz black coffee cost me £2.25 and lunch specials hovered around the £14 mark, some of which did not include any sides at all. (I'm lookin' at you whole grilled Plaice!) However for a coffee and a meeting, Canteen is a great spot and will certainly be my business friend-with-benefits whenever I'm in the neighbourhood.
Canteen gets one star from me solely for stocking a really good hot ginger beer.
But the rest was an absolute crapshoot.
First, they sat us in a table that only had seats on one side, so we sat next to each other, facing into the restaurant.
Our Welsh rarebit starter was not horrific, but it did not leave us with much sense of anticipation of what was to come. When it eventually did come that is.
The place was hardly full... maybe 5-6 tables. And they had about the same number of wait-staff working. Well, they were THERE, but seemed more interested in chatting to each other than actually, you know, waiting tables.
When my Shepherd's Pie arrived, it looked pretty good, served in a little metal skillet. So I picked up my fork and started digging into the potato crust to get down to the meaty goodness. First forkload was all potato so I dived back in again, a bit deeper this time. Nada. Again - and I am practically up to my elbows deep in potato this time, and I hit the bottom of the skillet and get some trace of something proteinish, accompanied by a pea.
After a little further excavation work, I managed to clear a little bit of the plate to get a look at the profile - only to find two inches of potato piled on top of less than half an inch of meat mixed with peas. The meat layer was literally not even deep enough to cover the peas.
My partner's chicken pie was pretty ordinary as well. Same issue. The chicken seemed to be out for the day.
Having raised the lack of meat in my pie (which was really a lot more of a side serve of mashed potato, served as a main meal) she offered to have them "cook me another one maybe, but it might take some time". Her attitude definitely suggested that it might come with a little "extra seasoning" so I opted to decline.
She ran to every other waitress and the service manager in the place to complain about my complaining ("can you believe he expected some lamb in the Shepherd's Pie?!? OMG") and then they all refused to come to our table or give any eye contact until I practically had to physically stop someone to get our check.
15 minutes later once they finally took my card and charged the check, this miserable experience was finally over with.
I didn't walk into this place expecting fine dining, but this joint couldn't even get the basics right.
Bad food. Bad attitude. Bad service. Therefore... bad review.
This is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars depending on the visit, so I'm going to give Canteen the benefit of the doubt, for now at least.
Canteen has a cool, if uninspired atmosphere, and it's usually pretty buzzy. As many of the reviews have picked up, the service could definitely do with improving - I'm not sure if it's bad training or understaffing, but it's definitely not a flowing service.
Daily roasts often make me happy, and Canteen's don't disappoint. The roast duck was delicious and all the trimmings were great. Definitely 4 star material. The next time I went for Sausage and Mash, which was seriously below that par: dull, small, low-quality sausages and uninspired mash and gravy.
The place rescues it's hit and miss food with a great drinks menu and bar service. A full range of Meantime beers alway make everything and everyone look Four Star.
My experience of Canteen at this location has been mixed. The first time I went I was thoroughly impressed, although I felt the portions were a bit small, and my later experiences were mostly just OK.
I have tried the daily roasts and the pies. The roasts were good, nothing was over-cooked and dry, although at times it was a bit plain. The pie was not very memorable. I brought visitors here often or told them about it for British cuisine. One friend, who is a foodie, went to the Baker Street location and she enjoyed it so much that she went there repeatedly during her trip.
My favorite item from Canteen, although I don't know if they still have it, is the chocolate beet cake. Its taste is very unique, and I enjoyed it very much.
I don't know if it was going to Canteen on a Monday that made it a disappointing experience or what - the food was distinctly ordinary, felt overpriced (have the proprietors not heard of the recession?) and a bit over cooked if I'm honest.
I was lured by the thought of pie and mash but the choices for a vegetarian was beyond dul - I think it was potato and onion on the day - not exactly inspiring, if you ask me
Awful experience last night with a friend. Service was an absolute nightmare. Took 10 minutes to get a food menu (which acts as your placemat i.e. wagamama style). Never got a drinks menu. Then took 10 minutes to serve a glass of lemonade and a bottle of diet coke with the lid taken off.
Food arrived just after our drinks, rather speedy. However despite telling them who had what they gave each of us the wrong meal.
To top it off the sausage and mash was not great, 2 small supermarket sausages with a frugal amount of mash and watery gravy. At least my friend's vegetable stew looked and was nice.
Quite simply avoid.
From the outside, this looks like a no-frills cafeteria style restaurant. However, the prices are a bit shocking, and more suited to a proper restaurant.
There is a good selection of dishes on the menu, as well as a daily rotating selection. But with a fish and chips at £12+, and the quality of the food just so-so, this is rather expensive and you're much better off just going to the Pizza Express or the Chez Gerard down the road. If you have more to spend, try to Ping Pong just round the corner instead.
Canteen is part of a London based chain of restaurants. As with the restaurant at Spitalfields this restaurant has an attractive, clean, simple, and modern decor and serves traditional British food. Its name is a literal representation of the food served here so think British traditional in terms of pie and chips rather than beef wellington.
I went with my sister and mother. Before we ate we had a drink at the bar. I had a Seasonal G & T (the gin is infused with rhubarb) which was lovely. To eat I had chicken and chips which whilst well done, was unremarkable. Which was disappointing as the place suggests more, even from such a simple dish.
The service was really good, the Maitre d' was remarkably pleasant and efficient.
A good concept, and well-designed place, although the dish I chose was a little disappointing.
There are a few things that Canteen knows how to do very well:
1. Eggs Florentine,
2. Smoked Haddock, Hollandaise, Spinach and Mash.
3. Apple Crumble and Custard
4. Rice Pudding and Jam.
I have sampled a lot of the menu over the last year and a bit, but these are my four favorites.
The roasts are good too, but my local branch gets so crowded on Sundays that it can be a bit of a struggle and I hate feeling stressed on a Sunday.
It has a good formula, has nice drinks on the menu too and is a place where you are not likely to be served a duff meal. Just beware that they do slap an automatic 12.5% service charge on, but the service by and large is good.
I've been to Canteen a few times, but always for dinner. I always see people enjoying nice breakfasts reading the paper on Sunday mornings, why not give it a whirl?
I didn't want anything too big or heavy, so I opted for the £4 poached egg on toast.
The calorie-conscious American in me nearly had a heart attack when I saw how much butter they put on the toast. It was seriously soggy, though I know part of that may have been the egg. Another thing: one egg was cooked more than the other. I don't like my egg too runny, so obviously I liked one, but not so much the second.
The bread they used was lovely, but I kept dreaming about the raisin toast at One O One.
All in all, it was good, but I won't be going out of my way to have breakfast there again.
Sometimes a long leisurely meal is not what you want. Sometimes you need to get in and out like a viking raid (minus the raping and pillaging of course). It's amazing the way a need for quality food at speed reduces your choice.
Unless of course you go down the sarnie and drink route a quick Pret, an Eat or, god fobid, a Greggs style abberation. But there is a third way. The Canteen way.
Canteen isn't the place for a long dinner with many courses, while the emphasis is modern British food, it's not St Johns or Rules. It highlights on the menu the dishes that come quickest out of the kitchen for goodness sake.
But it also highlights that everything is made in those very kitchens, from the buttered Arbroath smokies to the piccalilli. No special sauce or Heinz mayo here. No siree.
So I don't mind sharing a 6 person table with two other couples, I don't mind the odd average dish, because you know what? It's a damn site better than anything else you can get nearby at the same speed.
It's a bit like the calculation I made as a wayward teen, applying some fiendish algorithm to determine which wine brought most alcoholic bang for my (minimal) buck.
Here it's the small dishes that deliver on the bang-for-your-buck scale. I went straight for devilled kidneys on toast with a side of chips and some spring greens.
The kidneys were great. Properly meaty without that bitter edge you can get if they're not absolutely fresh. The texture was firm but not chewy and they put just the right amount of cayenne kick into the sauce.
They came perched on a delightfully tangy, stretchy piece of toast that lent a certain crunch to the affair. Greens were fresh and tasty and the chips were decent.
My friend went for the roast chicken and I was surprised both at how good it tasted juicy, darkly meaty and distinctly free range and the size. This was no stunted teen (or accelerated toddler) this was a properly matured fowl. The skin was properly crisped too. Delicious.
And the whole lot, including 2 caraffs of wine and a pint of Meantime IPA came to something under £40.
I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.
Picked this place to meet with a friend and her terrible-two baby for a coffee and a bit to eat. It is really light and airy with big wooden tables. a few more private booths and outdoor tables on the terrace. It's on the rear side of Royal Festival Hall, so no river views, but the service makes up for that. We instatly were told we could leave a buggy in a spcae near the door and were brought a high chair. Nothing was too much trouble and our waiter took extra care to be nice to my little friend. They were also very accommodating about the fact that during the 45 mins my friend and I were there, he managed to arrange half a box of raisins, a ham sandwich picked into 1/2cm pieces and some grate carrot on the floor under his chair.
All-in-all a great place for family eats - casual, fairly cheap, good service and child-tolerant!
What a great little find. Tucked away behind Royal Festival Hall, away from the river front, Canteen serves nice food at reasonable prices (well, for a tourist area in London, anyway).
We just stopped off for tea and cake and were really torn, which ones to go for opting for the equally excellent chocolate and beetroot cake, scones with cream and home-made jam, and carrot cake. Nice big pot of tea each and good coffee. Will be returning some time for a meal.
I was pleasantly suprised by Canteen on South Bank. Being on South Bank I expected it to be poor quality food, expensive and bad service. However, the service was friendly, the steak I had really was brilliant and at 8pm it was still warm so we couls sit outside in their really pleasant seating.
Great place for a bite to eat in the evening, would definitely recommend. We only had a main course but on a previous visit I have tried the Neils Yard cheese which is always a winner!
Only downside is that it's slightly overrpriced but most likley because of its position. You must go.
Really enjoyed this - classic British cooking, simple and well done, and without a huge amount of fuss.
The restaurant itself was very busy when we turned up and we ended up taking a table outside, but this might not be so doable in the winter months!
A little on the pricey side, but not extortionate and a lot better than some of the other options nearby. Desserts were particularly good.
Interestingly straighforward and unfussy - a good spot for a quick bite to eat before popping round the corner to the BFI or National.
To their credit, the up-beat table staff were able to cheerfully deal with our picky group of six, who all arrived at different times.A plainish menu, featuring in the evening an array of "basic"starters, mains ( including macaroni cheese!), salads ( chicken, tarragon, and walnut - highly recommended), and desserts, along with a choice of two pies ( one vegetarian, one not) and a "day-boat special" ( think fish and chips). Food is pretty reasonable all round,for example the haddock and chips was uninspiring pub-standard, but won't provide an exceptional dining experience, and there is also an interesting selection of beers on the drinks list - I'd recommend the Hooky Gold.
I went to the Royal Festival Hall with my girlfriend's family, and for our pre-theatre meal they'd booked us all a table at Canteen. We struggled to find the place but luckily with my smartphone on the case we were heading in the right direction. While walking there I thought I better have a look and see if this place was any good, and stumbled across a Jay Rayner article, admittedly for one of the other branches but given that they had the same name and therefore (in my mind at the time) had the same menu, I had a look at his recommendations.
It was all going well until I read what he had to start - devilled kidneys on toast. I'd never had kidneys before and was a bit apprehensive, but if the devilled kidneys here are anything to go by, I've missed out big time. They were fantastic, soft and tasty in a lovely thick sauce. My pie and mash for main was brilliant, with crisp pastry and lots of filling, and my pudding was equally good (though thankfully not equally meaty!). Service was not excellent, but still good and overall a brilliant meal that we all enjoyed.
I'm looking forward to going back and trying some of the other options on the menu, I hope they won't disappoint!
I had the steak and kidney pie and a bottle of St. Austell Clouded yellow. Both really hit the spot. And on a Friday night before heading off to a show I was pleased with the quick service.
We were looking for somewhere to have tea and cake on a very busy Thames Festival day on South Bank. We considered the Royal Festival Hall cafeteria, but it was absolutely manic, noisy, kids everywhere and not a great selection of cake!
We stumbled upon Canteen, on the backside of RFH, and it was an oasis of calm in comparison. The scones were fantastic, and the menu also offers an eclectic range of yummy things from fishfinger sandwiches, marmite on toast and bowls of sausage rolls to a full roast, pies, etc.
I enjoy Canteen for what it is--decent food at a not too exorbitant price. Wouldn't expect anything flashy. Appreciate that they locally source.
The leek and potato soup was very tasty and a good-sized portion (5.50 pounds). The smoked haddock (13.75 pounds) was quite good and very healthy--served along with sauteed spinach (which was a tad oily) and small bit of mash. Wouldn't have complained had they put a tad more mash on the plate--the portion seemed just a tad larger than a tablespoon full. Finished with the chocolate beetroot cake which was fine (3 pounds). The service was very attentive.
Wouldn't make this a special night out, but when I'm in the mood for a decent meal, I do consider Canteen. I enjoyed the location out at Canary Wharf more, but still worth a trip.
Well-executed and uncomplicated British food in a large bright open room with decent service and a pleasingly familiar menu full of old-fashioned comfort food like steak pies, lamb stews and cod and chips.
If the portions were a bit bigger, I'd give it five stars.
Whenever I get to a large station like Waterloo I always exit at the wrong end. This is part of a chain of restaurants and is very close to the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall. It is a fun place for families, and business meetings with very modern decor. It is great for families with a large menu. I had the fish n chips and a brownie sundae for dessert. The fish n chips was well done, and the brownie sundae was excellent. My friends had the traditional English barbecue that they seemed to enjoy. This is a fun place to meet. I would not recommend it for foodie's, but is very modern, and clean--reminds me of Wagamama decor.
So Canteen has yet another branch springing up, this time Royal Festival Hall. And I think it's got a bit more vibe than it's Spitalfields counterpart. Same menu, same fresh ingredients, same nice-but-not-that-efficient staff. As I've said before, my main gripe with the Spitalfields branch of Canteen is it's location - in the heart of the Market complex. If it was more like this new one, it would be so much cooler.
The menu looks great. The place is surprisingly quiet for a large place. The shared tables give one enough space. So far so good.
My husband's fish and chips was good. Not amazing, but good. My pumpkin soup was lovely. My bean, shallot and goat curd salad was pleasant though too heavy on the shallots and very light on the curd. However, the portions are tiny and the prices quite high. £5.50 for a minute bowl of soup and £7.50 for what was basically a side salad? £13 for a small soup and salad? Maybe I'm out of step, but I call that quite a lot. Frankly I think Leon, Wagamama, or even Eat would have been more fairly priced.
Also, if you are allergic to any of the following you may have problems: wheat, potatoes, dairy. Check with the staff.
This is one of the many places to choose from now for pre- or post-performance drinks and eats.
First impressions were very positive. The place has a very modern feel to it - we were very impressed by a beautiful wood structure positioned in the plaza; however, this is part of a design festival and has nothing to do with the restaurant.
The first disappointment was the wine list at the bar. They seem to be trying too hard to be different. Why else would you offer a choice of three rose wines which includes an American, a British (!?) and a Spanish variety. We selected the latter but kept wondering why there wasn't a more obvious French or Italian on offer.
The second disappointment was to be offered a seat right in the corner, by a broken door.
But the worst disappointment was the food. After the initial excitement of a delicious sounding and very extensive menu of unusual and more predictable comfort food, we were taken aback a little by the speed with which our food arrived.
One out of three was actually hot, one luke warm, the other cold.
Cold comford food is just not right, and we felt a bit insulted as the place isn't cheap.
It contradicts the Canteen claim of being committed to providing honest food, nationally sourced, skilfully prepared and reasonably priced.
What a shame!
I find myself having to come out of retirement after a truly appalling experience here last night. Firstly our table for 8 given away as we were two minutes late despite phoning ahead. The food was fine however they had run out of salad as they had just opened a new branch in Covent Garden...obviously ? The service was appalling with the Managress rude and deliberately difficult...she would last 10 minutes in a decent resturant. We were told there was no more wine after 10.30pm despite the resturant is open to 11.00pm. We waited a further 25 minutes for a bill which thankfully didnt include service, which was just as well as thee wasn't any. I'm sure other Canteen branches are fine but avoid this one at all costs.
I like Canteen where I had a breakfast of bacon, eggs and bubble & squeak at their Royal Festival Hall branch. A special mention goes to their front of house as they dealt with a long delay caused by a table number mix-up with courtesy and charm. I almost felt guilty in accepting my breakfast for free.
Modern British food, made in house. Yes that's right in house. It is a chain yet it still feels family run which is nice. It is a Coeliac's dream as you can ask the front of house mgr what is in what dish and they know as they create it themselves from scratch! We visited last year and saw a great FOH mgr who had a notebook packed with GF options. Visited again this year and the guy had left so service was a little patchy. However, we can recommend that if you need a great long slow sunday lunch to blow away the cobwebs of a wild night before - then this is it. Perched on the South Bank you can sit outside and watch the world saunter by or dine inside. We opted for the latter. It has a quirky design, very minimalist so that you almost feel you're in a library that just happens to offer great food. The wine list is amazing although a tad pricey as this is the South Bank. We ate the buttered Arbroath smokie and had roast chicken or was it duck (?) for main with great greens. Note: the Smokie is billed as a starter yet is huge so come hungry!
The staff were friendly and very open to adapting dishes to make them gluten free. It's a great choice for a lazy Sunday meal with a partner or friends that are visiting the city and want to see the South Bank. Do watch the price. Dishes quickly add up and they add 12.5% service charge to your bill. So more a place for an occassional than regular gluten free bite. If you take a date there you can wind up the evening by wandering over to Skylon for some great gluten free cocktails and soaking up the sunset over the river Thames!
FANTASTIC! Best bacon sandwich I've ever had. Great breakfast. Great eggs florentine. Fab roast. Brilliant food, never had anything less than perfect. Great friendly service. Super wine. Can't fault it. (Maybe slightly uncomfortable chairs?) SUPERB!
My faves: devilled kidneys, bubble and squeak, sausage and roast onion baps!
Ghastly. Dirty glasses; tables so low and small you feel liek you are back at primary school; unchilled white wine; small portions for the main course; erratic service; one dessert arrives when two are ordered; coffee arrives before dessert. And that's on one visit. Not cheap and truly dreadful. Best avoided.
A slightly bizzare meal last night at Canteen. The front of house were really welcoming and found us a nice, comfortable table, the waitress was really nice and helpful - but I really don't get the point of the food. It's such simple stuff, you'd think they'd manage to perfect the art of doing it really well - especially at such an apparently popular venue. But it was all, well, so underwhelming. I had been intending to order a pumpkin and goats cheese tart, but luckily the waitress showed it to me in the display case - it looked very pale, limp and uninspiring. I switched to fishcakes, which were OK, although it was really hard to tell what fish they'd actually used. Mushy peas were rather vinegary. My friend's macaroni cheese was fine, but a pretty meagre portion. For dessert I ordered an apple and blackberry crumble. The crumble topping was fantastic, really crunchy and packed with hazel nuts - but the fruit was a completely homogeneous mush, which managed to taste neither of blackberry or apple. Not inedible, just a bit, well, odd. I wasn't expecting spectacular food, but seriously they could do a LOT better.
One of three or four in London. This is a great place for a meal before or after some culture on the South Bank and rather cheaper than the NT and RFH in-house restaurants. It's also less manic than the rather more family-oriented restaurants round the other side of the Festival Hall. Open all day. Book a table or you're likely to get directed to the tables with the backless chairs.
Love Canteen and this is my favourite branch. It has the most comfortable, spacious and private seating. Food is always good and the location is great.
Good simple food, quick friendly service, good wine list and reasonably priced Dropped a star as the font size on the menu was soooo small and no mint with the bill!
We've been here more than to any other place in the Southbank part of London, convenient to Southbank and The National, but count it really as a cafe, which I think is their best food--the all day breakfast and the desserts. Especially recommend the Welsh rarebit, the pear and almond tart and the scones with cream. They don't always bring you enough cream and are not always great about letting you have takeaway for what's left. Worse, the service is VERY spotty probably because the 12.5 per cent tip is built into your bill so they're getting a tip no matter what the service. Still, it's a sweet and friendly place, what's good is great, and the whole family likes it. One other oddity--tey only take 30 per cent reservations--for the rest you have to chance it, so by all means book early if you can!
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