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|Address:||Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, London E14 5FW|
|Tel:||0845 686 1122|
|Price: £36.00||Wine: £12.50||Champagne: £49.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30am-10pm Sat 9am-11pm Sun 10am-7pm|
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I love Canteen. I go there fairly often as it's convenient and reliable, I love the clean, honest food, the servers are always a delight and the price is right. I was reminded of what a treasure it is when I had the opportunity to visit twice in the past week. In the first instance, a colleague and I dropped by for a quick dinner quite late in Canary Wharf. When we asked hesitantly whether the kitchen was still open the hostess smiled and said “of course!” in a way that implied, for you, we're always open. A small thing, you might say, but it's a nice way to start your evening. My colleague had a pie and I ordered the smoked haddock, spinach and mash. I am a huge fan of the smoked fish in this country but as well as being a gorgeous piece of fish this haddock was beautifully and subtly cooked, and more than once I felt compelled to break off our conversation to say so. A few days later, I realised I had enough time for a light dinner before the theatre and so headed for the branch at the Royal Festival Hall (thank goodness, in the middle of what is generally a pretty sad selection of restaurants). It was very busy, as usual, but the hostess found me a table for one, and I ordered the soft-boiled egg, artichoke, anchovy and green bean salad and a glass of wine (I always try to order something different just to try everything but my favourites are really their vegetable pies and beer). Not much time had passed when I started to get a bit nervous ahead of the play and when I told the serving staff they were able to speed everything up, despite the packed house, again typical of the consistently exceptional and personalised service at this restaurant. The salad was just what I needed — nothing complicated, just fresh, flavourful ingredients with minimal dressing, though I might have cooked the eggs a bit less, in fact poached eggs would have been even better. All in all two experiences that reaffirmed my appreciation for this chain and reminded me why it is I always recommend it to visitors and why it's my first choice for a working lunch. On price, the website says the prices are “reasonable” but that's a meaningless term in this town, where “reason” has nothing to do with it. Having said that, this is where we live and I always emerge from Canteen thinking, yum, that was 25 pounds well spent.