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Tiles from Sloane Square, light fittings that were planned but never installed at Embankment station, wooden benches from Wembley Park and Gloucester Road and down lighters from Bond Street are just a few of the reclaimed interior pieces. They all help differentiate Canteen from your average museum cafe/bar. Canteen could only possibly exist with London Transport Museum.
But once you park your bum on glorious moquette seats, what's on the menu? Themed interiors can only go so far if the cafe only serves watery coffee and limp sausage rolls. We're delighted to confirm that isn't the case — the menu is populated with quality British staples: fish finger butty, bangers and mash and a classic ham and cheese. Vegans and veggies be not afeared. Mushroom rarebit, grilled halloumi salad and a crunch vegan sandwich means you're provided for.
Canteen is run by Benugo, who you might recognise from the high street, but the company has become rather a dab hand at taking on museum restaurants on the sly. Canteen's food sits on a par with that at other top-notch Benugo venues like Wellcome Kitchen and Cellarium Cafe inside Westminster Abbey.
However, the real highlights at Canteen are the cocktails. The gin-heavy Routemaster is kept chilled by a roundel shaped ice cube. Then there's the Elizabeth line, which arrives at the bar blue, before the barman pours something else in, gives it a quick swirl with a (metal) straw and magically transforms it before your eyes into a glorious purple. Now, if only that same magic could get the Elizabeth line to hurry up and actually launch.
All the other alcohol regulars are on the menu if you're not in the mood for a cocktail, along with coffees and teas if you're after something with less bite. Whatever you're sipping on, you'll have a pleasant view of shoppers beneath you to while away the time — Canteen sits directly above LTM's shop. Watch punters peruse moquette socks, vintage transport posters and model vehicles... but mainly, moquette socks.
As transport nuts, we were always going to get a kick out of Canteen. It's named after the static and mobile canteens that used to cater for London Transport staff during the mid-20th century, and that's just the attention to detail to warm any fanatic's heart. However, we didn't expect the quality of the food and drink to match the design work.
Canteen is open from 9.30am-7.30pm Wednesday-Saturday, and 9.30am-6.30pm Sunday to Tuesday.