Girl in Bristol reviews The Canteen on 5th August 2014, a bar and restaurant which places a great emphasis on locally sourced food and community …
Since its launch in 2009, the Canteen has quickly grown to become part of the Stokes Croft community. It’s relaxed atmosphere and shabby-chic décor playing host to a number of regulars who come morning, noon and night as the venue transitions from a café during the day to a free music venue in the evenings.
When visiting the Canteen for the first time back in 2011, one of the things I loved the most was the mixed pool of customers we found there. There were artists with easles under their arms, there were couples curled up on the sofa, there were groups of friends laughing merrily over a pint after work. There were even a small number of dogs wondering about, meandering up to any who would give them attention – or a scrap of meat. Rarely do you find such a collection of people in one place, but at the Canteen it’s the norm and I love that!
During the day, The Canteen is somewhat more chilled than in the evenings. Often you’ll arrive to find only a small number of people dotted about the place, nursing a cup of coffee as they type away at their laptops or simply catch up with friends. Although during my final year at University, that made this place all the more appealing when there were many deadlines to meet. Nonetheless, come breakfast and lunch time there are always a selection of seasonal dishes up for grabs or nibbles to choose from at the bar to keep you going.
Served with a bowl of complimentary soup (larger portions for £3.50), the main dishes of the evening become available around 5pm, never costing more than £8.50 a plate. BARGAIN. What’s more, every dish is always made with locally and ethically sourced ingredients. As a recently converted veggie, I can particularly recommend the seasonally changing risotto and pasta dishes which never fail to disappoint. Although the puds are also divine, fruit crumble with custard (£4) and chocolate cakes are hard to say no to. Even if you are feeling full.
Stay a little longer into the evening and at 9pm the live music starts and the crowds flock in. Friday and Saturday nights are the Canteen’s busiest with queues often forming out the door around 10pm. Although if you don’t mind standing (or dancing) near the bar, it’s worth the wait. The music itself also changes in terms of genre each evening so it may be worth checking the Facebook page beforehand to see who is playing. One night you’ll come in and hear sweet acoustic melodies, the next you’ll be tapping your feet to upbeat jazz tunes! There’s also a number of reggae nights which have been a highlight for us.
To top it off, the surroundings are also something to behold. Every wall and table features some form of artwork for customers to enjoy and comment on. This inclusive of headless parrots and upside down cats (at least that’s what my friends and I concluded they were). There are also some amazing walruses to be found in the girls bathroom and notes on the bathroom doors left by previous users. Everyone loves something to read in the Bathroom right? Fellas, when we’re taking ages to come back from the loo – it’s not because we’re touching up our makeup, it’s because we’re checking out all the cool messages!
The Canteen is a big favourite of mine and I love that’s it’s now my local! I urge you all to visit and definitely don’t leave without trying some of that food.
Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QY
*Image from Bristol Post