British food was very much in vogue a few years ago, we were all talking about home-grown classics, watching the Great British Bake off in our hordes and while we’re still doing the latter, we seem to have fallen out of love with the British Food revival. Now we’re all about slow cooked pulled pork, Nikkei anything, crazy fusions and anything that you can serve on a slider.
Canteen was one of the restaurants that proudly flew the British flag, claiming it’s heritage in classic home grown ingredients. I’d been a few times before over the years but nowadays, I can think of any number cuisines I would rather have. But with the buggy in tow on a walk around the South Bank and Canteen boasting a lot of room to squeeze in, the Mummy friend and I booked ourselves in for lunch!
There’s definitely a lot of room – tell them you have a buggy and they’ll give you a booth which meant we could easily park our tanks next to us, a luxury not always afforded in the crowded trendier dining rooms.
With freshly squeezed juices for refreshment, I opt for the fried calamari and Mummy friend goes for the tomato and goat’s cheese salad. Unfortunately, my calamari is a fine example of why British food has a bad rep, it’s not that there’s anything dreadfully wrong with it, it’s just that it’s anaemic looking and the accompanying aioli entirely devoid of flavour!
Mummy friend has better luck with her salad, comprising of fresh heritage tomatoes and some beautifully fresh gooey goat’s cheese drizzled with plenty of olive oil and I’m hoping for better luck with my next course!
Pies are a bit of a British speciality and Mummy friend can’t resist the sound of the vegetarian pie which comes with a big fat pile of chips and some greens to go alongside it! I’m not a fan of pies but I love a fish cooked whole on the bone and with a fresh Dover sole on the menu, and some chips on the side, I’m sold!
The fish is cooked perfectly with a lemon contributing the only flavouring and while I admit the lemon does complement the fish beautifully, the Asian in me craves a bit of bite, a bit of spice and I suspect this is why British food, with it’s plain, almost non existent flavours can let the plate down, making it feel solid and ultimately, quite unsexy.
The pie is solidly stodgy and is a large portion and wins a thumbs up, although she does agree with my bland assessment!
Although we’re both full, there’s a vague sense of dissatisfaction in the air. It’s a shame as there’s certainly noting wrong with the food, it’s all cooked well and seasoned beautifully but it lacks that lingering taste in your mouth that makes you want to carry on eating!
What do you think British food is all about? Does it deserve it’s ‘bland’ label?