Royal Festival Hall
0845 686 1122
by Sadie Frosties
Recently it has seemed impossible to mention Canteen without prompting serious debate. Perhaps it is to do with the rate at which this Spitalfields start-up has grown since first opening its doors in 2005. Or perhaps the feeling of unease stems from the geographical locations in which one can now find a branch of Canteen – do we secretly fear that, one day in the future, branches will open in Chelsea and Brixton, thus creating an upside-down five-pointed star, and giant walls will rise up from the dirt and we will be entombed forever more within a Canteen fortress, ruled by a dictatorship of additive-free pies? Well I don’t. Nor have I spent a disproportionate amount of my time plotting the locations on Google Maps.
Actually, the Royal Festival Hall branch of Canteen is one of my favourite places to supper. I’ve never been disappointed with the food, and my consistent ordering of the smoked haddock, spinach and mash, I believe, classifies my opinion more as scientific fact than subjective review. But during my most recent visit my eyes glazed over and widened as they settled on the first column on the menu. Breakfast is served all day. Why haven’t I noticed this before? Has haddock-vision denied me life-enriching breakfast experiences?
At precisely 8:55pm I decided to throw caution to the wind and live as dangerously as one can after 14 days of living, post-tonsil extraction, on a diet of liquid food and Spanish cinema. I ordered the bacon, fried egg and bubble and squeak.
Service was swift and pleasant, and I was met with two very happy eggs, fried to perfection, and allowed the freedom during cooking to form whichever eggy shape they so desired. Disappointingly the bacon, although of the streaky variety, was vastly under-cooked in two of the three examples on my plate. However, the bubble and squeak was satisfyingly lumpy in a way that you could believe it was created by man not machine, and measured in at an almost obscene circumference.
There was something intensely satisfying about the act of eating this dish after 9pm, while everyone around me ate ‘proper’ suppers. I then ordered Eton mess, which seemed so fitting after breakfast I wondered why other breakfast menus don’t include a dessert course too.
So now, a few days on, as I settle down to my supper of cabernet sauvignon and jam tarts I wonder, why are we so bound by such strict meal timetabling? Why shouldn’t we be able to have dessert with breakfast? Is it really so unacceptable to eat baked potatoes at dawn, and bacon and eggs at dusk? Now, if it came to breakfast-time at Canteen, I think I’d have the haddock.