British food has long been considered bland and boring, and many people say that it has only been in the last few years that dining in the UK has actually gotten palatable. While I do agree that restaurants have gotten exponentially better in the last decade, I’m a firm believer that some of the best food out there in England is actually the most traditional and pedestrian food. Case in point: the traditional roast dinner.
I have fond memories of my mum making Sunday roasts of beef or pork with a thick layer of crackling when I was growing up. My favourite part of the Sunday roast was the super crispy roast potatoes, boiled and then roasted to perfection in lard. I also loved the Yorkshire puddings, large pillowy puffs of egg, milk, and flour which only taste better when drenched in gravy. Although they were once a weekly occurrence as a child, I only ever eat roast dinners on special occasions or at Christmas now, so I was super excited to have a roast dinner at Canteen in Spitalfields Market as our last meal in London.
Carlo discovered Canteen a few years ago and whenever he goes to London for business alone, he makes sure to send me a photo of his roast dinner and it always looks incredible. The restaurant specializes in “Great British Food,” and its menu is a greatest hits of traditional English dishes from shepherd’s pie to bubble and squeak. The menu is jazzed up with locally sourced meats and vegetables, but at the heart of it, the food is the same food that convinced foreigners that the English couldn’t cook. Canteen takes that perception and throws it out the window. Their roast dinners showcase the best of British cooking and include a rotating cast of meats depending on what day you go, including pork, lamb, duck, and beef. I recommend going on a Thursday or Sunday as those are the roast beef and Yorskshire pudding days! My roast dinner was a simple affair with a few slices of tender roast beef, roast potatoes, boiled carrots, sautéed spring greens, and a Yorkshire pudding all topped with a delicate and flavourful gravy. Great British food indeed!