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Dec 17, 2008 01:00 AM

Canteen (London) - run out of chances

Canteen used to be one of my favourite places for a quick lunch or a leisurely Sunday breakfast - tasty, simple food, great ingredients and friendly service. But it seems in the past year standards have really slipped - I want to like it, and keep giving it a chance, but I'm afraid my patience has run out! A few months back I went to the Spitalfields branch for breakfast - my eggs benedict came out rock hard and cold - obviously been sitting around too long. I sent them back and they came back runny, but the hollandaise on top was cold and starting to congeal - I didnt bother sending those back, we just left - they very kindly (!) removed the eggs from the bill.
The South Bank branch doesn't fare much better - and the service is consistently terrible. A few weeks ago a group of five of us went for lunch, it wasn't too busy, we sat down and ordered our food along with a bottle of wine. The food arrived, it was fine, nothing special, but bottle of wine arrived after we had finished our mains (despite asking three times for it). We then had to wait 30 minutes for a waiter to come with our bill. Luckily we had a bottle of wine to bide us over...
Last night I decided to give it one more chance. We ordered a pint of prawns which would have been lovely, had they not been chilled to near frozen, so pretty much masking any sweetness that would have been there. My pork belly with apple sauce had the consistency (and flavour) of soggy bread and the 'apple sauce' was an apple cut in half and warmed through - they were so hard, any attempt to cut them resulted in a slice of apple skidding across the table. We had to ask twice for ketchup and when it arrived, there was about an inch left in the bottom of the bottle.
Sorry Canteen - I really want to like you, but I'm sick of being constantly disappointed!

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  1. It seems Canteen has not stepped up to the plate. Three strikes and you're out!

    1. Harsh. Personally I have always had good experiences at Canteen... but my girlfriend has had a disappointing breakfast where the muesli to yoghurt ratio was crazy.

      We've recently been treated to a Canteen opening opposite my office on Baker Street and I have to say it is very quiet... but very good. We had 3 excellent breakfasts which are by far and away the best in the area.

      I also want to love Canteen... in fact I am going there now and will report back. I'm going with 4 very picky girls so let's see what they think and I will report back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Browners

        Feel a bit silly replying to myself. But can report that Canteen on Baker Street was absolutely packed which is good news. The food was excellent, the service was a bit slow (understandable) but charming. And the atmosphere was great. They could do with having larger tables that can accommodate more than 4 though.

        Girls loved it. But complained that the puddings weren't unhealthy enough. Girls hey!

      2. I used to go to Canteen quite often, as I was working just up the road from the Spitalfields venue. I enjoyed it, but did start to notice a decline as time passed. Unfortunately, this is a trend in the City.
        Leon next door serves more "granola" fare, but offers and excellent breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner. I have been pretty consistently satisfied with the meals I've had there. I also love S&M Cafe (on the right side of Spitalfields, crossing the road) for breakfast (less variety, but cheaper than Canteen.)
        Scarlet Dot (curry on the corner of the strip where Canteen is) really good, if more expensive that you can get further down at Brick Lane. Their take on Indian is elegant and the portions are small, but very tasty. They have a great happy hour as well.
        But I digress...

        1. Sounds to me that the prawns were probably not chilled to near frozen but not defrosted enough!

          If you dont like canteen then I wouldnt bother with any of the HaHa chain either! They used to be really good but previous visits have resulted in a really bad spicy prawn bruschetta with rocket (which was really some increadibly greasy bread with 3 (!) small prawns on top, buried under a mound of old, saggy, tasteless rocket for a price of £5!!!), a visit for sunday lunch, which took them 30 mins to tell me they had run out of beef only to offer roast chicken, which was served up 1 HOUR LATER as a chargrilled chicken breast (that was so over cooked and tough that it offered me outside for a fight at one point!) limp veg and burnt potatoes, all served cold by which time I was so hungry I ate it anyway, and a bowl of pasta that could only be decribed as served with the water it was cooked in instead of a sauce, oh and a smidgin of cream to add a bit of colour!

          Tried them three times.....wont be returning for a fourth!

          1. This discussion makes me wonder if the 'credit crunch' is catching up to many restaurants. It sounds as if corners are being cut to save money, things are getting sloppy and maybe staff feels underpaid and just doesn't give a fig. I hope this sort of thing isn't contagious.