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Rochelle Canteen – Lunchtime Gem

I’m a bit baffled why all those people claim that Rochelle Canteen is difficult to find – trust me, it’s really not that hard!  Yes, it is tucked away in the backstreets of Shoreditch & inside a walled courtyard of an old school, but tap the address into Google Maps and you’ll be seamlessly directed straight to its front door.

Now, this venue is a well-kept London secret, and although i kind of wish it stays that way, i’m clearly not being true to Dips Dines if i don’t share it with you.

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Arrive at the ‘Boys Entrance’, buzz for the canteen, and shortly after you shall find yourself entering a grassy courtyard oasis.

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Cross the garden and take your seat in (or outside if the weather’s on your side) the old school bikeshed.

Rochelle Canteen is kindly brought to us by caterers Melanie Arnold & Margot Henderson (aka ‘Arnold and Henderson’) & its location is also home to a community of designers, architects, fashion brands & artists (which would go some way to explain the rather creative looking crowd of diners).

Inside, the decor is bare and unpretentious, with long communal bench seating.

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On this particular Friday lunchtime in April, the sun was out and we got to sit at one of the tables scattered outside.

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We settled down to browse the short & simple, but very enticing British menu (which is updated daily) and gave the blackboard chalked specials a once over.  My vegetarian lunch date, albeit not overwhelmed with choice, had enough options for contentment & importantly, all of them appealed.

We were so impressed with the quality & freshness of the food, it really took us by surprise.  For me, Rochelle Canteen is all about unfussy cooking, packed with flavour, vibrantly coloured and ultimately, delicious.

As we dived into our roast carrot starter, it was immediately clear that the kitchen was using great produce – never had either of us tried such fabulous carrots before. It was a delightful dish.

Roast Carrots, Goat's Curd & Chervil

Roast Carrots, Goat’s Curd & Chervil

The Blackface lamb salad was a real pleasure to eat and one of the best salads i’ve had in ages – the flavour of the herbs came through beautifully and although filling, it was also wonderfully fresh & light.

Blackface Lamb, Barley & Pea Salad

Blackface Lamb, Barley & Pea Salad

The risotto consisted of an unusual combination of nettle and borage – again, a super fresh tasting & very enjoyable, well cooked dish.

Nettle & Borage Risotto

Nettle & Borage Risotto

Service was friendly & swift – although, i’m not so sure if it would have remained this way post 1.30pm once the place was at full capacity.  P.S. My tip is to go early, before 12.45pm, & make sure you call in advance for a reservation.

Does Rochelle Canteen offer good value for money?  We paid £20 a head (including service) for 2 mains and 1 starter – so it’s not ‘cheap’ but considering the quality of the food we got, i’d say it does.

The only downside, is that it’s only open on weekday lunchtimes – which isn’t really a big downside, unless you don’t work closeby i suppose.

Overall, this was a winning springtime lunch for us, and i’d go back in a flash.  As we strolled through the garden on our exit back to work, leaving the peace & calm of the courtyard behind us, i thought to myself ‘what a great little escape from the City that was’.

Dips Bites: This unique venue goes down in my book as a great find.  It’s charming because of the quirky nature of the venue, the refreshing simplicity throughout & of course, the wonderful food which speaks for itself.  Rochelle Canteen provides a delightful, low key spot for lunch in Shoreditch & is certainly not to be missed.

P.S. It’s also BYO (corkage £5)

http://www.arnoldandhenderson.com/4-rochelle_canteen.html

Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES

Monday to Friday 9-4.30pm: Breakfast & Elevenses 9-11.30; Lunch 12-3; Tea 3-4.30

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