canteen has great british food: apricot cobbler, mushroom pie, and other surprises

apricot cobbler with custard from canteen

if my keyboard shorts out from all the drool slowly dripping from my mouth, i fully blame canteen and this ridiculous apricot cobbler.  good lord. this dessert is amazing. warm jammy apricot, fluffy sweet breadiness and your very own mini pitcher of creamy custard. mmmmmmmm. as if things can’t get any better, i spy a neal’s yard dairy cheese plate behind it….

i’ve had a wonderful deluge of visitors over the past few weeks (christine, ant, mom, aunt julia and uncle dick, lexi, sarah, peter, drewstew, becky, and dan…whew!) and our major tourist activity has been eating our way across the city. i enjoy forcefully disabusing people of the all-too-common belief that england has terrible food by shoving something amazing in their mouths.  the old spitalfields market location of canteen turned out to be the perfect restaurant to put this tragically untrue myth to rest once and for all, seeing as their motto is ‘great british food.’ but just how great it was even surprised me too.

i shared a number of great international meals with my aunt, uncle, and cousins this week – spanish tapas, indian curry – and this meal at canteen was a thorough exploration of all things british.  canteen does a lot of updated and improved classic dishes like a rich leek, mushroom, and celeriac pie and a nice fish and chips with breadcrumbs instead of batter. i had a tomato, mint, and caper bread salad – simple, fresh, and texturally satisfying with slightly soggy yet still crunchy chunks of bread.

tomato mint and caper bread salad from canteen

you can see the cute little booklet on ‘great british food’ that had all kinds of helpful and informative bits on canteen’s menu and practices. i love that they use all free-range and additive free meat and follow a nose-to-tail philosophy of using the whole animal. i  also appreciate their attention to sustainable and environmentally responsible fishing, purchasing their fish directly from small day boats depending on what’s available.  but really, i am mostly feeling the need to gush about their dessert menu. besides the apricot cobbler and the cheese plate, we had a rhubarb compote with fresh strawberries and cream and granola. i was disappointed we didn’t have room for the brit-tastic banoffee pie, eton mess, or treacle tart but i’m sure they’ll be just as good when i go back as soon as possible to try the rest of the menu.

funny enough, i didn’t even know what an eton mess was until just now, but turns out it’s my new favorite dessert.  i’ve had slightly less ‘messy’ versions of this meringue, strawberries, and cream combo at both rambling restaurant and frizzante and i’m obsessed.

canteen is almost disgustingly accomplished – their cocktails are fabulous,  the sleek and modern design is impressive, and apparently, they’ve won awards for their breakfast.  they’re like the homecoming queen/straight A student/star athlete you love to hate. except i think i just love canteen. and i loved having my family here too:

family at canteen in old spitalfields market

on a totally unrelated note but on the subject of awesomeness, i saw this walking home from canteen and i MUST have it. it’s a sleeping bag. it’s a down jumpsuit. it’s amazing. i have been talking about making one of these for about 10 years now and here it is in REAL LIFE.

sleeping bag jumpsuit

in case you’re wondering, my birthday is in two weeks. buy me a down jumpsuit and some eton mess and i am yours forever.

3 Responses

  1. Julia shiang says:

    Too cute. lexi looks like she has gusto. And your writing is great. Keep writing. Share your blog with Norma, she’s also a foodie!

  2. Su-Lin says:

    Yum! I too love Canteen and it’s my default restaurant if I’m on the South Bank and desperate for a meal. Not sure why I’ve encountered so many people who seem to be down on it…

  3. mei says:

    julia – thanks auntie!

    su-lin – i’m very interested to check out the other locations. the old spitalfields one has a bit of a chain restaurant feel since it’s kind of glossy looking and is surrounded by all those other massive chains. but their practices are those of a much more expensive restaurant and the food is really good, at least what i tried. i’m curious to hear more opinions as well…

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