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Canteen, Baker St, awful

012 is a massive year for London, so many visitors will flock here and yet I fear for what impression they will take away of the capital’s food. Especially if they find themselves in Baker St and go into the enticing “Canteen”. To be fair Canteen looks the part, it is in the old M&S building which I think now houses offices and a hotel. Footfall is not an issue whilst we were there yesterday a steady stream of custom came in. The entrance is grand through big glass doors up a ramp and into the restaurant, smart looking bar on one side, booths at the back. Lots of subdued strip lighting. However when you get to your table the problems start. The long canteen table is fine but the stool like chairs without backs are not. I’m wearing a jacket so nowhere to hang it. There are some coat hooks by the table but you know this is central London and I want to keep close watch on my jacket and it’s contents. We were meeting up with some of the old NCT crowd so 6 adults and 3 nearly 2 year olds. To be fair the highchairs were very good. Baby G was happy in his for most of the meal. The menu is quite big with plenty of choice we had turned up at 11 so were able to avail ourselves of breakfast items or lunch. My lovely wife went for the eggs benedict, we ordered a kids portion of Macaroni cheese for the noisy baby G and I went with a big childhood favourite of mine eggs, bacon and bubble & squeak. The others went for a mixture of cooked breakfasts and eggs.

Drinks came first and though my mocha looked pretty with a solid layer of foam, the drink however was lukewarm at best, which is really not on. If you can’t make hot coffee you are in the wrong game. Our waiter though very willing was new to the job and London so I did feel for him slightly. So tap water came by the glass instead of just giving us a carafe so we could help ourselves though he did rectify this later on. I tried to order the kids a plate of twiglets to keep them occupied but the bar had run out which was lax of them. When the food came the disappointment really set in. I think the eggs dishes were fine but baby G was less than impressed with his Macaroni cheese. He absolutely loves cheese so I was surprised, I tried it myself and it was lukewarm and they seem to have added undercooked onion to it giving it a bitter taste. My dish was also poor, again not terribly warm, eggs fine but lacking taste, bacon was cut thick but not properly grilled off so it was rubbery and as for my bubble & squeak it was too heavy on the potato, no seasoning, no flavour. Just awful, I’ve had this out before even the local pub in my in-laws village manages to make their cash & carry bought version taste nice.

So I sat there staring out of the window looking at all the happy people sat outside “Galvin” who were no doubt about to eat decent food and thinking that down Baker St is the “Royal China” where we could have all ate like kings. Instead I was sat in the soulless hanger of a restaurant paying £30 for terrible food. I could see into the kitchen here and it looked professional yet to me it seemed like they were merely turning cheap ingredients into something worse. Chain places like this don’t need to be bad. I went to “Cote” the day before and had a lovely lunch. I know that with somewhere like this they get a steady stream of one time customers so don’t need to try that hard but that shouldn’t be the case. As I walked out unsatisfied with a hungry toddler I feared for what tales some of London’s visitors will tell of our capital’s cuisine.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Overall rating
Food 2 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 2

Prince of Wales, Putney, top gastro pub

Cote, Parsons Green, footie food