After a night of rocking and rolling, jumping and jiving at the Camden Blues Kitchen until the wee hours, there was really only one course of action; brunch. This weekend we followed up with one of Malcolm Eggs of the London Review of Breakfasts’ recommendations and headed down to Canteen on the South Bank amongst the Sunday brunchtime browsers and tourists. It seemed many other people had had the same idea, as the FOH told us there would be a 45 minute wait for a table (despite several empty tables which they were keeping for the outside diners due to the rain…) We made ourselves comfortable at the bar and enjoyed a cappuccino whilst we waited before being shown to our table exactly 45 minutes later.
You have to be very careful about where you eat on the South Bank – plenty of places are either overpriced, rammed with screaming foreign teenage tour groups, or both. Canteen is slightly off the main promenade, close to Waterloo station, and the space outside its doors is home to either a farmers’ market or specialised food festival every Friday, Saturday or Sunday – which is great to wander round before or after your meal.
There are covered bench tables outside, while inside there are a mix of wooden bench tables and little angular ‘pods’ with comfy green cushions. On the left is a long bar with stools where you can have coffee or a drink while you wait to be called to a table (but good luck getting served, as the staff are very much focused on fulfilling the diners’ drinks orders) and on the opposite side is an opening to the kitchen where you can see the staff busying themselves with the dishes.
There’s free wifi so you can get tagging your friends in the drunken photos from the night before while you wait for your eggs to arrive.
We both felt comfortable here – thanks to its unhurried and relaxed atmosphere, well lit with natural light from the huge front windows, and plenty of space between the tables so you weren’t dropping your elbows into the Sunday lunch of the people in the next booth.
The service at the bar area was very slow, as mentioned earlier, but as the dining area was packed it was understandable that the waiting staff took a while to get to us. Having to wait 45 minutes for a table was a pain – and they don’t take bookings before 5.30pm on a weekend, which is annoying.
However both the FOH and the waitresses were very polite, helpful and apologetic for our wait. They were prompt to take our order for food and drinks once seated, and the food came swiftly (but not so quickly we were suspicious anything was reheated!).
The first thing that strikes you when your plate of eggy b arrives at Canteen is the gorgeous, rich yellow of the hollandaise which turned out to be as rich and buttery as it looked! Normally we favour a more vinegary and tangy hollandaise, but this made a sumptuous difference! The sauce was smooth, slightly sweet and thicker than is traditional – it felt like there was a whole pat of butter in each serving, but when you’re hungover that’s definitely a positive. It was served with lightly peppered bacon, which gave the a kick to the dish which would otherwise had been missing due to the buttery hollandaise. The large soft muffins were perfectly fluffy – overall a rich, tasty and indulgent twist on the basic benedict!
Both of our eggs had the compulsory runny yolks, but they were actually slightly undercooked, with watery layer surrounding the yolk, which was a bit of shame. Better to be slightly undercooked than overcooked though in our opinion!
The eggs are free range and the bacon is organic, according to our waitress (everything is organic she said…that’s for you Frankie!)
Style: Classic with bacon
Value: 7/10 (£8.50 for two eggs, 12.5% service charge added.)
Eggsecution (Cooking Of Eggs): 5/10
Will we be going back? Definitely, when we’re feeling like we need some post-Rockabilly comfort food! Check out the breakfast menu here.
Canteen, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX +44 (0)845 686 1122