“We must learn how to make this,” Wife muttered under her breath as she downed another mouthful of the linguine. We were just talking about how important it is to have a repertoire of dishes that we can conjure up with relative ease whenever we have visitors. As I helped myself to Wife’s crab, lemon and chilli linguine (£10.50), it was clear that we have found ourselves a winner. We loved how the lemon zest and the chilli’s mild spiciness complemented each other. Well, the generous portion of crab meat helped as well. That was exactly what I would want to serve my guests.
Kentish Canteen, a stone’s throw away from Kentish Town Tube station, had kindly invited us for a meal over the weekend. Having read Giles Coren’s write up on the restaurant earlier, our expectations were raised somewhat that afternoon.
In many ways, Kentish Canteen didn’t disappoint. Walking along Kentish Town Road, it was quite clear that Kentish Canteen was one of the few places to have a nice meal in the vicinity. It was probably the place to go for a ‘night’s out’ for those who didn’t want to travel far.
The restaurant had the mark of a family friendly restaurant. A large photo montage dominated one wall, which together with large metallic lamp bobs would entertained the little ones for awhile. Checked. Toddlers’ chairs were provided upon request. Checked. Baby changing facilities on the ground floor. Checked. No tablecloth for pulling. Checked. The menu clearly stated that they would accommodate a child’s needs (I’m thinking reduced salt). Checked. When a parent was struggling to get through the door with his baby stroller, the manager leapt to his assistance. Checked.
But for those looking to chill, Kentish Canteen had a well stocked bar on the side as well. And true to form, the families tended to settle in the main dining area while singles and couples congregated near the bar area when we were there.
Starters came in the form of thai-style fishcake with a sweet cucumber vinegar dip chargrilled chicken caesar’s salad with reggiano. The fishcakes (£6.25) had nice consistency and went quite with the mild acidic dip. If you are going for this, I would suggest nibbling through it to savour the subtle taste instead of downing it in a single mouthful. The nicely seasoned chargrilled chicken (£5.95) was toasted nicely with a tinge of the sought after smoky taste. All that was aptly tempered with slices of half melted reggiano.
Other than the fabulous crab linguine, we had the mandatory beef burger with bacon and cheese (£9.75). However, while the burger was decent, the highlight of the dish for me was the homemade fries. A bit burnt, which was the way I liked it, they were a bit denser than the frozen supermarket variety and could be rather addictive.
Dessert was lavender creme brûlée (£4.25). Though I thought that the caramelised crust was a tad thick, the lavender aftertaste of the custard base was unmistakable. An interesting take on the otherwise mundane dessert dish I would say.
Kentish Canteen has the unmistakable charm of a small town restaurant. Set in the heart of Kentish Town, this is one must try if you are in the vicinity. Be sure to check out its crab linguine. Can't go wrong with that really. Now all I need is its recipe.
The Toby Carvery, South Croydon
9 hours ago