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Jul 17, 2010 10:52 AM

New-ish to Cambridge and really tasty: Canteen

Last night, I grabbed a quick bite at Canteen, a charming new little sandwich/salad shop between Harvard and Central squares. Everything was really tasty and made with care. The sandwiches were especially good: they had lots going on, but everything on them was there for a reason and the balance of flavors was spot on. The people who worked there were supremely nice. For both reasons, I want to go back, and I'm really rooting for this little place. Thanks, MC Slim JB, for the write-up in the Phoenix!

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  1. Saw that same capsule review in the Phoenix and it caught my attention. Glad to hear a second opinion backs up Slim's take on it

    1. It is great to see that space filled, and this neighborhood is in desperate need of more fast and fresh options. The concept looks good. The sandwiches and salads we have tried have been pretty good. The Crafty was great. The Green Goddess could do without the broccoli Haven't tried breakfast yet.

      One issue is that over a month past their 'soft opening' and this place is still putting stickers on the menu for items they don't have available yet (Bahn Mi). I also think they need to do away with the tint on the windows or add some kind of retro neon 'open' sign. The windows are so dark that you can't see in at all. I'm sure this has slowed their opening traffic to some extent.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        I would have made all of the same points that you made (including that stupid Bahn Mi), so I'll just leach off of your post :)

        1. re: Gabatta

          The owner told me, "We just haven't gotten the banh mi right yet, and don't want to charge $8.50 for something that's not as least as good as a $3 Chinatown version." Laudable, but they need to stop being timid about Asian flavors. Their Thai chicken salad would be barely identifiable as such if they didn't tell you that's what it was. I like the sandwiches a lot: the BLT with a fried egg, avocado, and cherry pepper mayo is terrific.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Went today for the Banh Mi and it wasnt on the menu. Got the Crafty which is turkey, avocado, bacon, carm onions and something else. Didn't blow me away, I'm afraid. Small portion, that and chips 10 something. My feeling is that if your sandwich prices are climbing over the 10 dollar mark give me a great sandwich or a great big sandwich. Pretty gloomy space too. Darwin's does a better job, is cheaper, and the atmosphere is less funeral home-ish.

            1. re: baldbert

              They've covered it (Bahn Mi) up with a piece of paper which is now peeling away from the rest of the menu. You must have beat me there today, as by the time I ordered my crafty that were out of turkey, and was it OK if they made it with chicken...

              Losing hope for this place. I'd like to make it here once when they're not out of (or not serving) multiple menu items.

              1. re: Gabatta

                I noticed that and the cashier (who seems nice enough) mumbles so I couldnt understand what the special was... Marinated meatballs, or something. Darwin's and AssBar do this better. Too bad...

                1. re: baldbert

                  Cardullos does some nice sandwiches as well.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    I agree. Their sandwiches are huge too. I often have enough for 2 days or to split w/ someone.

              2. re: baldbert

                bert, i think you may have coined a very useful phrase there: Great or Great Big. Sounds like it could be used in so many ways.....Bravo!.

          2. I got the egg sandwich and subbed the ham for vegetables. I was charged $9 for it. They add a $4 charge for subbing the vegetables for the ham. The sandwich consisted of one egg, a slice of cheese and some vegetables on an english muffin. It did taste good but that is outrageous pricing. It makes it cost prohibitive for me.

            4 Replies
            1. re: David_A

              funny this was reviewed as cheap eats...

              1. re: David_A

                I haven't been to Canteen but based on these posts I can't believe they are charging $9 for sandwiches when Clover is charging $5 for similar-concept stuff and executing consistently well.

                  1. re: David_A

                    Clover Food Truck, two locations: on Carleton St in Cambridge, behind Kendall T entrance (Inbound side), and Dewey Square in the Financial District (kitty corner from South Station). Both locations open roughly 8 a.m. - 7 pm.. on weekdays only. May close earlier when food runs out. Twitter feeds @cloverfoodtruck (Kendall) or @cloverdwy (Dewey Square)

                    Clover Food Truck
                    Dewey Square (at the South Station T-stop exit), Boston, MA

              2. Link to Canteen

                983R Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                1. Just went there for the first time - I tried the Crafty (turkey, avocado, bacon, spicy mayo on Iggy's ciabatta roll) and I thought it was very good. A little steep at 8.50, but that's not too far out of line with the other fancy sandwich places in the area (Cardullo's, Hi-Rise, et al). I wouldn't make it a regular stop but I'll definitely go back. (That 4 dollar charge for the vegetable substitution mentioned above is totally ridiculous, though.)

                  I agree about the shaded windows, too - sort of a strange look. Although it didn't appear to be hurting business - they had a steady stream of lunch customers while I was there.