Despite its name, the Canteen in Bristol seems to be known better for its music than its food. This is a shame because they serve incredibly tasty dishes at outrageously low prices. There is a simple reason for this – the Canteen is ran by a cooperative and therefore there isn’t someone trying to make a huge profit out of it.
Three of the main course meals were suitable for vegetarian and the bar tender assured me that there is always at least one choice for vegans. They serve interesting and well thought out dishes. Vegetarians are not going to get a bog standard boring risotto here. I had wild mushroom stroganoff with mustard and chive polenta and tenderstem broccoli. Other options included a vegan option of cauliflower, lemon and nut gyoza with a brown noodle broth and coriander salad as well as pasta primavera with English asparagus, garden peas, spinach and herb pesto.
My mushroom stroganoff dish was rich and creamy and the sharp mustardy polenta cake added a nice balance of flavours. Every main course order includes a free bowl of soup which was, again, not only great value for money, but incredibly tasty. Two main meals (one of which was a meat dish for my husband), two soups, a pint of cider and a pint of ale came to £20.
The kitchen closes at 10pm and makes way for either live bands or DJs which play every night of the week. The Canteen is also more than a place to eat and party, but during the day it is used as a laid back meeting space-come-cafe before it transforms into a canteen, then bar and then club later on in the evening.
Like many other neighbouring restaurants in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, using organic, local and ethically sourced ingredients is a must. As a result, the Canteen has been awarded three gold stars from the Sustainable Restaurants Association and try to keep their food “good, clean and fair” in line with their Slow Food philosophy.
It is homed within Hamilton House, a 1960s concrete building than has been rescued from crumbling decay that other similar buildings will sadly face and has been transformed into a thriving space that forms the beating heart of Stokes Croft. Aside from the main room of which the canteen kitchen, bar and club operate from, Hamilton House also acts as a space for local art and has rooms to hire for lessons, clubs or whatever people in the community fancy.
Not only do they keep their prices low but they have implemented a 15% profit feedback policy which means once the Canteen starts to make a profit of more than 15% they will establish a contribution back to the community of which they serve.
The Canteen could be seen as one of Bristol’s most loved and most popular bar. But if you end up heading there, remember to sample their food as well as everything else they have on offer.