Saturday 24 October 2009

The Canteen, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, central London

An onslaught of clean, modern lines and right angles, this branch of The Canteen, embedded into the back of the modernist Royal Festival Hall, has rows of sturdy wooden tables, mostly flanked by uncomfortable seats or benches with virtually no back to them. There are also tables outside sheltered by large parasols, but the floor-to-ceiling glass windows ensure that the interior is flooded with daylight. At pains to stress the authenticity of The Canteen's free-range ingredients, the menu is made up of unashamedly British fare, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Staples include a large leg and thigh of golden roast chicken with a great pile of chips and some garlic mayo (for about a tenner), smoked haddock, spinach and mash (£13) and walnut, tarragon and roast chicken salad (£9.50). The specials might include a modest chicken and mushroom pie, with light fluffy pastry, some delicious creamy mash potato and appetising buttery cabbage, for about a tenner. If you are still hungry, one of the classic deserts, such as treacle tart and cream, will set you back between five and six pounds. Coffees include a good, strong latte. Although service by the young multinational staff can be painfully slow and even forgetful, the fine food is good value and the The Canteen buzzes on a Friday lunchtime. 7/10