When Rochelle Canteen launched in the converted bike shed of an old Shoreditch schoolyard in 2006, nobody could have imagined that 11 years later it would open a second branch in the grand surrounds of the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s cool East End creation, already a favourite among artists, designers and opinion-makers, seems instantly at home in the new-look ICA bar with its Finnish birch wood tables, Swiss cheese plants and plain white walls. The split-level space, with bar-café at the lower level and dining room on the mezzanine overlooking the Mall, is good for both a pre-flick pick-me-up of cake and Caravan Roasters coffee as well as a wine-fuelled repast suited to the existential angst or life-affirming hedonism that follows all the best cultural events. The menu changes daily and reads simply. When the list includes ‘asparagus and hollandaise’, ‘radishes and cod’s roe’ or ‘grilled quail and watercress’, that’s exactly what you get.
Pies – huge, glossy, suet-crust constructions filled with pheasant and trotter or guinea fowl and Paris mushrooms, maybe – make regular appearances whatever the weather. They guarantee almost immediate postprandial slumber, particularly when accompanied by a robust bottle from the all-French wine list. A lighter choice might be poached chicken, carrots and sauce vierge or poached trout, monk’s beard and sorrel mayonnaise. Bookend the experience with classic cocktails and homemade ice cream, then roll home.