Posted 19th January 2011
Part of a revolutionary concept, Coexist, The Canteen has ‘grown organically’ since launch in summer 2009. Coexist was set up to manage spaces in which people can coexist with themselves, with each other and the environment, and this ethos has created an enchanting atmosphere.
My first visit to The Canteen was soon after it had opened, and it was quite a lot to take in – a complete mixed bag of customers, food for £5, locally sourced ingredients and beer, old school tables and chairs – but I soon got used to it!
Since then, The Canteen has got better and better – furniture has developed as they have managed to pick up a few sofas, the outdoor area is fully seated and covered for the winter, and the atmosphere is buzzing. The place is a hub of activity – people meeting for drinks after work, friends meeting for dinner, people listening to the amazing live music they have on offer, as well as people who have come in from the cold and to bag themselves some hot grub for a fiver.
Onto the grub. Only getting what they can that is local, seasonal and of the best quality, the menu changes daily, and is astounding for between £5 and £8 each. The chef makes the most of rarer, cheaper cuts of meat and fish too, which is not seen enough these days.
Up on the blackboard the menu has featured various fish dishes, meat, such as spiced lamb, and inspiring vegetarian dishes like pumpkin pies and spinach tarts. And not only do you get that, you first get a complementary and delicious homemade soup and bread (I have had both spiced lentil and minestrone), plus your chosen main is served with nutritious sides including salads, beans, cous cous etc. What you get will depend on what the chefs have managed to muster up that day, but this is how they keep the prices down and to be honest it is really nice to mix it up for a change.
To top it off, you can get a bottle of decent house wine for a tenner, and if you like to boogie the chances are there will be some live music taking to the stage later in the evening.
The Canteen definitely promotes coexisting – tables are shared, and everyone is friendly and welcoming. They have definitely created a community vibe, one which I welcome with open arms after spending 6 years in Clifton, where you feel awkward sitting too close to the next table!
Verdict: Refreshing, relaxing, interesting and an absolute bargain! Well worth a try, but don’t expect everything to be perfect – that’s not how Canteen rolls.