This best-of-British mini-chain serves a broad and enticing menu of well-cooked national treasures in a stylish but pared-back setting.
In some ways, it’s a surprise that Canteen’s bold-and-British mini-chain has only expanded to four outlets since this original opened in 2006. Its locations are perfect for day-trippers or lunching office workers (the others are at the South Bank, Canary Wharf and Baker Street), the welcome is warm, cooking is reliable, and the venues themselves are accessibly minimalist and stylish.
The open kitchen sends out a Land’s End to John O’Groats selection of classic dishes – arbroath smokie with poached egg, welsh rarebit, lancashire cheese tart with chicory, pie and mash. Canteen was one of the first places to trumpet locality and sustainability on its menus, a commendable stance that continues today: eggs and chicken are free-range, fish is from non-endangered species, farms and breeds are name-checked. And – perhaps due to the chain’s limited size – results are reasonably good.
The pie fillings change every day and come with a scoop of perfectly creamy mash and flavourful gravy; daily roasts are as good as you’ll find in the best gastropubs. There’s also afternoon tea, plus a small list of trad bar snacks (scotch eggs, fish finger sandwiches) to go with the democratic wines, simple cocktails and British beers.