Thursday, 1 March 2012
Having called in advance to try and book a table, I was told that Sundays is the only day that they don’t take reservations. Not such a good start. So instead of booking, we turned up and were greeted by a flustered member of the waiting staff who didn’t seem to appreciate our request for a table. Eventually, we managed to establish that, yes, it was quite full inside and we could wait in a queue for a table indoors or take our pick of the tables outside. We chose a semi alfresco table under the glass roof of Old Spitalfields Market which was nicely sheltered from the elements and gave us a great view of the Sunday stallholders going about their business.
Canteen’s menu revolves around hearty dishes including braised, spiced pigs cheeks and daily changing roast - Sundays is good old beef with Yorkshire puddings but I’d like to try Wednesdays or Saturdays; roast duck with figs. They also serve an all-day breakfast menu, filled with traditional meals – the steadfast bacon sandwich – to the more unusual – rhubarb compote with granola. The combinations seem simple but well thought out.
After slow service and slapdash execution, we didn’t think that the 12.5% service charge that they had taken the liberty to add on to the bill was justified. The kitchen is obviously technically able but they seem to lack attention to detail and grasp of timing. It’s a shame because the menu is great; neither too long nor too short with a bias towards fresh, quality ingredients. Go for lunch or dinner when you’re not in a hurry for stodgy filling fare.
Canteen has four outlets in London. Tel: 0845 686 1122. The Spitalfields venue can be found at 15 Crispin Place, Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6DW.