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Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Few restaurants have impressed me as much recently as Kentish Canteen. We visited on a Thursday evening and were so happy with our experience that Dr G returned for dinner the following day with a friend. Now, that is a recommendation if ever there was one!
I lived in nearby Chalk Farm during the 90s and used to drive down
Kentish Town Road often. I also used to volunteer cooking for The Food Chain, a fantastic charity that provides 3-course meals for house-bound HIV and AIDS sufferers on Sundays. I spent many happy Sundays cooking at one of its kitchens a few metres away from this restaurant. I have some fond memories of , but truth be told, I used to dread the high street. It was dirty, ugly and full of betting shops and fried chicken joints. I was happy to return to this familiar place though, and pleased to see that a lot seems to have changed since those days. Kentish Town
Kentish Canteen is one of these recent improvements. It is a bright, spacious and modern restaurant, with plenty of natural light and some funky artwork very close to
tube station. The photographic mural that dominates one of its walls pays homage to the many facets of this eclectic neighbourhood with images of its local residents, landmarks, architecture, and its early Victorian tube station. It also gives the restaurant a strong local identity and made me feel somehow connected to this neighbourhood again. Kentish Town
Chef John Cook (formerly at Vinoteca) devised a simple but well thought out menu at excellent value – starters are priced from £5.25 to £7.50, main courses from £8.95 to £15.95, and desserts between £4.25 and £6.75.
He also offers special sale menus (Mon-Fri noon-7pm and Sat & Sun 5-7pm) including one main (£10) or two courses (£13.50), accompanied by a glass of wine, Kronenbourg or soft drink. The beef burger with cheese, bacon, home made fries and coleslaw sounded tempting as did the pan fried haddock, pea puree, and skinny fries, both available at this discounted menu.
On our visit, Dr G and I had one of their “Larder Sharing Trays for 2”, a large board containing Serrano Ham and pan con tomate, served with 3 delicious salads and a bread tin at a mere £17.50! Such great food and value is hard to find.
All the salads were presented on big platters, Ottolenghi style, tasted fresh and were well seasoned. As we couldn’t make our minds up between the choice of Serrano ham, smoked salmon or roast chicken for the board, we also ordered a small platter of their own house-smoked salmon which was again excellent.
For main course, Dr G went for slow roasted shoulder of lamb @ £14.95 served with its own roasting jus, olive oil and lemon crushed potatoes and mange tout. The meat was meltingly tender and tasted delicious. We also felt that at this price, it was a rather generous portion.
My Sirloin steak, also priced at £14.95, was accompanied by a simple green salad and fat chips and tasted very good with the melted garlic butter it was fried in.
We ordered an 09 bottle of Malbec, Trivento Reserve from
@ £24.95 which was a good accompaniment to our meaty mains. The wine list is predominantly Old World but also has a few Mendoza, Argentina New World choices. There are many excellent options below the £20 mark, but only 3 choices of white or red wines by the glass. Commendably, cocktails are priced at a mere £6.50 and contain 75ml of alcohol, equivalent to a triple shot. Camden Brewery draught beer (brewed half a mile away) is also available.
For dessert, I ordered Crème Brulee @ £4.25, a favourite of mine, while Dr G had the “Homemade Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream” served with raspberry coulis @ £4.25. As with the other courses, both desserts were well made and ended this great meal on a very good note.
Cost: around £25 for a three course meal (excluding drinks). This is excellent value for food of this quality.
Likes: good quality cooking, excellent VFM, great addition to
Kentish Town Road, friendly and very knowledgeable service, well thought out wine list, filtered water promptly brought to our table without us having to request it, 75ml of alcohol in all cocktails (triple shot) priced at £6.50.
Dislikes: None – although more wine choices by the glass would be nice.
Verdict: Kentish Canteen offers a simple menu, very well executed. Excellent VFM and friendly service make this a lunch/brunch or supper spot not to be missed. We loved it. Very highly recommended.