The Canteen opened a couple of months ago in the redeveloped modern bit of Spitalfields market. I hate the redevelopment, but guess Canteen kind of makes up for it. It has recently been reviewed in a couple of weekend papers, and on the evening we went they were run off their feet - you may be well advised to book. But the maitre'd was very nice and agreed to squeeze us on to one of their large wooden tables (think Wagamama but nicer, and there are some small booths too for couples or foursomes). The menu is quite long, with a helpful section for things you can order if you are in a hurry. The food is traditional British - and yes, that does exist and in Canteen it tastes fantastic. I had macaroni cheese, which was a world away from school dinner slop (£7). The watercress and onion salad provided a refreshing alternative to the traditional rocket and parmesan combo (£3). And my companion's pork belly with apple sauce was very tender (£9). There is a reasonable wine list (from about £12), as well as a selection of interesting bottled beers, including ales. They also offer an all day breakfast menu, featuring such classics as Welsh Rarebit and black pudding with a fried egg. The atmosphere is convivial rather than trendy or romantic. And we are definitely coming back to try more of the food - next time will try and save room for the cheese platter.
The bill includes at 12.5 percent service charge. Officially they are open until 11pm daily.
Canteen, 2 Crispin Place, E1 6DW; Tel. 0845 686 1133; Tube: Liverpool Street; www.canteen.co.uk