Canteen serves high-quality British cuisine in a welcoming contemporary environment. The menu includes traditional favourites and updated classics and changes seasonally to incorporate the freshest produce.
I went for a quiet dinner here with my partner after watching a film at the BFI. He had a bowl of stew and I had macaroni cheese. When we had almost finished, my partner pulled a 1cm strip of sharp metal out of his mouth! It had been in the stew and if he'd swallowed it would have been sure to lodge somewhere in his gut. It was sharp and dangerous.
We showed the waitress, who was very sweet and utterly apologetic. She said she'd get the manager to come and see us immediately. We waited, and waited and waited. It was almost 11pm and the restaurant was completely empty. The manager finally appeared, 10 minutes later and sauntered over. He spent about 30 seconds explaining that he couldn't understand where it had come from and he assumed it must have been in the seasonal greens. He did not apologise or ask us if we were ok. He seemed utterly uninterested and was fairly rude. He offered to take the stew off our bill but kept everything else on, even though we hadn't finished our meal due to being put off the food.
I said we didn't want to pay for the side dish as we hadn't eaten it and he looked very put out and it took me being quite firm before he agreed to take off the green beans we had left. I totally regret paying a penny for the meal as it spoilt our evening. A simple, profuse and prompt apology would have been all it took.
I will never come back to this chain. I used to come here regularly with work for special lunches, but we'll be finding somewhere else from now on.
by emmying, 06 Sep 2011
Visited Canteen, Royal Festival Hall last Friday evening. Ended up there as didn't want to queue as every other venue was packed. Should have realised the empty tables might be there for a reason...
What an appalling meal, worse than the worst greasy spoon. My friend had sausage and mash - plain boring presentation and gravy tasted foul. I took haddock and chips - miserable scrag ends of potatoes and fish dry as loafer. However, I did eat it simply 'cos I was very hungry and to complain would have meant we wouldn't have eaten.
I've worked in restaurants as a waitress and wouldn't complain, just don't repeat a visit. Service was vacant and sloppy from two out of three, third was smiley and polite. Harried looking man rushing about whom I guess was the manager that evening.
Liked the booth table we sat at, disliked every other part of it. Disappointing.
by CherryBailey (2 reviews
), 24 Aug 2010
We went to the Royal Festival Hall branch at about 8:00 on a Friday evening. Even though more than half the tables/benches were empty we were told to wait at the bar for 10 mins, where all bartenders were doing drinks for tables and it took more than 10 mins to order a drink. We were offered a shared and a tiny bench first before eventually being given a proper table to sit at. We noticed that anyone who turned up was made to wait at the bar before being given a table, even though tables were free.
Starter was nice but mean in size and sad in presentation. Request for a spare plate was ignored. Main course was non-descript and too salty. Side order of salad leaves consisted of lettuce leaves only.
Altogether this was an unpleasant experience and we regretted it. Have decided never to go there again.
by kian.co, 06 Jun 2010
We recently visited London and were taken to Canteen on a Friday evening. The food was of a very good quality but I have to say that the service left a lot to be desired. Although the waitress was friendly, she was a bit vacant and forgot a number of items from our order. We reminded her once or twice and eventually got most of it, though 2 side salads never did appear.
Also, the seats on the longer tables are a little strange... I can only presume they don't want customers to linger. There was more than one occasion where we had to say "Don't lean back" to a number in our party. The non-existent backs to the chairs is not my idea of comfort. We live in France and are used to an altogether more relaxed and friendly form of dining (and lunching), and would only consider sitting on a backless seat at a village picnic where we use benches.
by sand.hall, 08 Sep 2009
I recently went to Canteen to try some good old English food and was really pleasantly surprised. The food was exactly as it said on the menu and was very tasty. I also had the pleasure of being served by a friendly waiter which is becoming rarer and rarer in London! Will definitely go back. Love the booths...
by donboy34, 10 Apr 2009
One of the best coffees in London. Wonderful fresh food too - love the seasonal greens and pear salad, but you got to keep room for the desserts! Truly Wicked.
by meerasethia, 13 Mar 2009
I had my mum over last weekend... from Paris. She likes her food and wine. She needs good service. A friend recommended Canteen for an early dinner on Saturday night and I wasn't disappointed. Luckily my mum agreed - hard to please usually, she had nothing to complain about. Even better, she was impressed and was asking the chef for his lamb and mint pie recipe. I had smoked haddock spinach and mash. Delicious. And I could even afford to invite her, wine included!
by hortense.suleyman, 13 Mar 2009
Although often very busy at the weekend, I got there early last Sunday before the rush. The eggs benedict were delicious. I will certainly be back.
by charlesc, 25 Feb 2009
I hadn't been to Canteen Spitalfields in a while but recently went back and had a great experience. My steak was one of the best I've had, the meat was superb and cooked to perfection. We were a group of 8 and everyone really enjoyed the food. The service was friendly and efficient too. We felt like we had very good value for money. I don't usually leave feedback comments but felt it was worth highlighting that Canteen Spitalfields is worth a visit!
by lisa1, 25 Feb 2009
This review is about Canteen Royal Festival Hall but echoes some of the concerns raised elsewhere. Ate there on the 23rd November. Basically it was rubbish. We had a waitress whose mind (and to be honest physical presence) was often not there during our meal, it took them an hour and 20 minutes to bring our main courses and when it arrived the food was tepid to cold, and we had to request things that were stated as accompanying the dishes such as bread for the beef stew. They charged service and we refused to pay it as it was not provided. I note that they are looking for an entire management team (manager, general manager and assistant manager) at present and this was very obvious.
I was a fan of the ethos (good British food served well but simply) and the quality of the food, and having been there probably 15 times in the last year was expecting the same standards, but something is obviously not quite right there at present.
They have a feedback facility in which they state they will reply within 7 working days. Having sent them the feedback, I've not heard a dicky bird and to be honest am not expecting to! Really really disappointing on all fronts.
by m.g.b.staples, 10 Dec 2008
We ate around lunchtime on Good Friday and the experience was poor. My partner's beetroot and celeriac salad lacked any real flavour apart from the sinus-destroying blob of horseradish. Her macaroni cheese passed muster, as did my starter of pear, endive, hazelnuts and blue cheese. The gammon and potatoes with parsley sauce was pretty bad. Potatoes that were dry from being kept warm for too long and with the characteristic taste which that brings. The sauce tasted mainly of nutmeg and not of parsley. Again, the sauce appeared to have been hanging around too long - decomposing into whatever went into it. We waited 25 minutes between finishing starters and the main courses (advertised as being quick to deliver).
We will not be going back until we see some reviews indicating things have improved. I suspect this will be never.
by rjppavitt, 23 Mar 2008
What an awful place. I went there last night for my birthday.
The doors kept blowing open every 5 mins, so we got blasts of cold air throughout our meal. When we pointed this out to the staff, they either walked off while we were talking to them, ignored us or answered back soooo rudely.
The food was average and they even had the cheek to add service charge to our bill after us having sat there so uncomfortably. (There were other diners arriving and leaving immediately, due to the cold drafts!)
Would highly recommend that no one visits this dreadful restaurant - go to Carluccio's
, where the service and food are impeccable!
by nats2611, 27 Nov 2007
I used to go here all the time when it first opened and it was great, but recently I have been sorely disappointed. We last went in on a Saturday and ordered some eggs Benedict and Florentine. Although there were very few people in there at the time, we waited almost an hour for our order (during which time other punters who'd arrived after us were served). When I asked the waiter politely for an explanation, I was informed that it "takes a while to blanch spinach" (news to me!). Finally, we couldn't wait any longer and left without paying for our sub-standard coffee and pre-made fruit juices.
My advice would be don't go there. Try S&M, Valerie, Story Deli or even Rosa's cafe for a better breakfast. Take it from a local, the Canteen is beyond dire.
by Jane Frances, 06 May 2007
Clueless staff, arrogant maitre d', food like something from Asda reheated on an upmarket plate (how anyone can find the food good is beyond me).
by meracus, 28 Apr 2007
New manager at the beginning of the year seems to have improved this place. Don't forget the tasty little dishes like Bubble & Squeak and Eggs Benedict as lunch options. I also like the cheese. Deserved winner of 'Best
Restaurant' in Observer food awards, although it's surprising that such a relatively low-end place did so. Hope they can keep it up.
by alexl, 13 Apr 2007
Just had the most delicious dinner at Canteen, food could not be faulted. But what was it that left us with such an unnecessarily foul taste in our mouths? Could it be the inappropriately snooty maitre d' who would not allow us to sit at any of the empty booths because he had "had so many requests that evening"? Or was it the impossibly stupid French waitress who couldn't manage simple English, or simple maths, and thought it would be OK to give us our change in 5p's?? Lovely food, obnoxious staff...
by Tony Martin, 30 Dec 2006
Service was awful. We waited for 10 minutes just to get a wine list. There were plenty of waiters walking around, yet they all seemed oblivious to us. The food was very bland. The restaurant itself is very cool, but next time I go to Spitalfields I'd much rather have a quick bite at one of the food stands at the market. At least they're cheap...
by Anonymous, 27 Nov 2006
Slightly unusual venue that feels like an upmarket school canteen or stylish motorway service station. To add to this the service was somewhat amateur. However it's a decent place for lunch with mates as the food is very good.
by Lexi (6 reviews
), 09 Apr 2006
Excellent interior, great food and reasonably priced. Not the best location, but still good for people watching.
by mrem, 13 Mar 2006
Really nicely and carefully cooked food, an interesting and tempting menu and well-presented.
by Daisy K, 07 Mar 2006
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