Sunday, 11 September 2011

Canteen - Royal Festival Hall

Last month we went for dinner at Canteen, a small chain of restaurants serving classic dishes, made with the best ingredients. They've received consistently great reviews so I was excited to finally try the food. When we arrived the restaurant was buzzing, there was a food market taking place outside on the Southbank and every table was full.

The menu is unfussy and concise, it concentrates on comfort food; pies, steaks and roasts to name a few. Nothing on the menu instantly jumped out at me, when I'm out for dinner I like to chose something I wouldn't usually make at home, so basics like sausage & mash don't appeal that much.

To start I had potted shrimp, which were nice. The toasted bread they were served with was rock hard and cold, so no good for mopping up the butter from the shrimps. A little disappointing, especially as the fish finger sandwich Chris opted for was delicious. The chunky and crisp pieces of cod were topped with lashings of homemade tartar sauce - simple food at it's best, exactly what I was hoping for.

For the main we shared smoked haddock, spinach & mash and roast chicken with summer slaw. The haddock was great, delicately smoked with plenty of creamy mash, but at £14 it was very expensive. The chicken was a bit of a let down. The 'summer slaw' was simply some cabbage with vinegar on it and the chicken itself tasted like any other roast I've eaten. The dish was lacking in flavour and didn't really feel like a full meal.

I like what Canteen stand for; unpretentious, good quality food, eaten in a relaxed atmosphere. However, I do think the prices are too high and some of the food is so simplistic it is verging on bland. If you're using fantastic ingredients, then yes you should let them shine, but I do think the menu needs a little more flavour.

Whilst it's great to have classic dishes on the menu which haven't been needlessly updated, it's nice to have some more exciting options too. If I want to have macaroni cheese for dinner I think I'd rather make it myself, as paying nearly £10 for it in a restaurant seems a little pointless. If like me, you enjoy cooking, stay at home and use the cookbook to make the food yourself - it'll be much more fun and cost less!

Potted shrimp:

 Ace fish finger sarnie:

Haddock & mash:

Roast chicken:

Canteen on Urbanspoon

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