London is a massive city with a very diverse dining scene. There is always something new to try out and I absolutely love that about this city I call home.
That being said, I have no qualms in admitting that I don’t know a lot of it and I am still figuring it out. One of those areas I don’t know well is Waterloo so when my friends suggested we do brunch in Waterloo, I had no clue where to go! We decided to just meet up and walk around and see what we could find.
And that’s when we found Canteen. Situated in the Royal Festival Hall, this place is right in the heart of Waterloo and is hard to miss. We walked in on a busy Sunday afternoon and the FOH staff managed to find us one of their cozy booths in less than 5 minutes! We were over the moon – getting a table in a busy restaurant in London without a reservation or a 2 hour wait is something to celebrate!
If you haven’t been to Canteen, it’s a London chain that serves up good old British food that is nationally sourced and reasonably priced. With three casual dining restaurants in Canary Wharf, Spitalfields and Waterloo; they are open all day for coffee, meals, afternoon tea and even late night drinks. Even the drinks menu reflects this British pride with cocktails like Cockney Cobbler and a wide selection of beers and ciders from all around this island nation.
We ordered some good old British grub and drinks from this very British menu and waited to be wowed.
Unfortunately, that was not to be.
I am still waiting to try out some fried buttermilk chicken that matches up (or betters) to the one dished up at Solita. The Fried Buttermilk Chicken at Canteen definitely wasn’t it. The chicken was slightly too burnt and was a little too salty for my liking.
The Scotch Egg and Piccalilli starter that Franky ordered was thankfully a lot better. The egg yolk was nice and gooey, just the way I like it. The piccalilli accompaniment was pretty good too. Was it mind-blowing? Not really. It was a scotch egg done pretty well.
My Grilled Sea Bass; the special of the day just didn’t do it for me either. I know it’s not a necessity for fish to be deboned before it is served up but it was painful eating the sea bass. Finding a bone in almost every single bite I took was not fun or ideal. I struggled through most of it and definitely would not order the fish again.
The Crispy Battered Fish Burger and Hand-cut Chips on the other hand was delish. The fish burger was perfectly cooked and the chips were pretty good too – good simple British pub food done well. That being said, there wasn’t a lot of fish in it for a fish burger. Again was it mind-blowing? The short answer is no.
Seb ordered the Canteen Beef Roast which came complete with all the trimmings. The Yorkshire pudding was cold and dry. To add to that, it took our waitress over 10 minutes to bring over some extra gravy. Another dish that we weren’t the biggest fan of. On the bright side, Canteen serve up a roast every Wednesday in addition the usual Sunday – perfect if you are craving a mid week roast.
The Macaroni Cheese, Slow Roast Tomatoes and Crispy Bacon that Franky ordered was the saving grace of our meal at Canteen. It was beautifully presented and the macaroni and cheese tasted really good. The strips of crispy bacon on the side is a nice touch too. This dish, I would definitely order again.
Lunch over,we cleared the bill and decided to carry on with our lazy Sunday. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t very impressed with Canteen. The all British menu got me really excited but the food that was dished up didn’t match up unfortunately. I was expecting good British food with a twist. What we got instead was mediocre pub food served up in a sophisticated well designed space. To add to that, the service wasn’t great either- the staff seemed really confused and it took our waitress over 15 minutes to bring over the bill after we requested it. Not ideal.
It’s not all negative though. We did try a few dishes that actually were spot on (the Macaroni and Cheese for example) but most of the dishes that were served up just didn’t do it for me. Canteen still works if you fancy some pub grub at prices that are not exorbitant for London. It’s great for a quick casual lunch or a few drinks after work but I wouldn’t really go again unless I had to.