Saturday, 10 April 2010

Sunday Roast @ Canteen

With the amount of eateries in and around Spitalfields Market, it can be very difficult to make a choice as to where to eat. But when you look at some of the dross that is there, the choices are actually very limited. Thankfully. Certain places, with their supposed take on Latin food kinda drive you away than pull you in.
I had eaten once before, and also applied for a job at Canteen when we were travelling through Asia. They replied saying that “can I goto an interview the following day”. I think my response of “Didn’t you read my email, I’m still in Asia”, probably didn’t go down to well in their personnel department. But please you send an email, you expect people to read it. I mean come on.
Thankfully the chefs that work there have their eye on the ball. The food is simple but well cooked. I’ve only eaten there once before, on a Sunday as well, and had the roast. It was as good as you get in any pub. Maybe a little more expensive but same same.

The interior looks like it was all brought from Ikea. Long wooden benches in that Ikea birch wood veneer finish. The chairs have no back for you to lean back on, so no lingering. Big difference from a pub. You eat, drink, chat and carry on your merry way. Very informal, very modern, very new British. 

They have daily specials of stews, roasts, pies and soups. They say in their little booklet that they make everything in house. Whether this is in each restaurant or at a central kitchen, I do not know. But as they charge a lot less than Gordon Ramsey, the press will not care and therefore will never bother to find out.
As it was Sunday, I fancied a roast. Well you got to really. Todays special was roast duck. After watching again the first series of the Sopranos, ducks were on my mind. Lina had the chicken thigh and drumstick and chips with a garlic mayonnaise, not aioli but garlic mayo.
The duck was really nicely cooked, potatoes (thankfully got more than 1½ this time) were not as crispy as I like but nice. The gravy was really good. Proper made gravy. Sign of good things happening in a kitchen, when you get served good gravy. It’s the little details that make a place.
Lina’s chicken skin was nice and crispy, chips ok, and mayo very garlicky. All in all a pretty good Sunday lunch.
The service is not as good as the price of the food should give but it is doable. All the waiters were no doubt foreign students working to pay for their English classes. So their manner was more Euro carefree than professional. As we were sitting pretty close to the kitchen I could hear and see everything going on there. I enjoy the chat, banter of a kitchen.
Now we chefs are only human and after 50 orders of chicken and chips, a chicken and roast tatties can sneak though without being noticed. This did happen, not to us but to a couple near us. They never kicked up a fuss, they simple asked the waiter to replace the chips with the roast tatties they wanted. The little upstart of a waiter stormed off to the kitchen venting his disapproval that the kitchen messed up an order and may affect his tip and the end. The chicken was re-plated with the roast tatties in moments and returned to the couple within a minute. The waiter in the mean time had run over to the restaurant manager to whinge and cry little a spoilt Euro brat.
Now I have worked with chefs who would have, and one nearly did grab a waiter through the service hatch and beat the shit out of him. I think if he had gotten a proper hold of him, he would have succeeded. As all chefs regard waiters as nothing but cheeky little fuckers, who grab the rewards for our hard work. Do we ever receive any tips, well only to make up our wages. You can see which side of the fence I sit on.
I always if I can, make a point of thanking the chefs who cooked my food, with a simple “thanks chef”. Lina laughs every time I do it. But it’s appreciated and welcomed. Try it, and see the reaction you get.
 I’d love one day for a customer to give the tip directly to the kitchen and blow off the waiter. Can you imagine? 

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