Rochelle Canteen is a scene that's unseen and uber cool for a school – E2
Rochelle Canteen is the type of place you rave to your friends about and pray that not too many people are made aware of its existence. It is highly unlikely that you’ll know of it unless you know that you’re going. I wanted to keep this diamond in the rough a secret, I really did, but even I can’t be that selfish surely, actually I can be however depending on my mood, can’t keep certain things to myself (be thankful on this occasion).
The ‘canteen’ is located within an old Victorian school overlooking a playground and Arnold Circus. The restaurant itself is a converted bike shed seating approximately 30 and the kitchen is in full view. In other words the place is tiny.
Open only on weekdays for a few hours during the day, it is the perfect place for breakfast or a hearty lunch. For all you 9-5ers who don’t have the time or don’t work near enough to visit this place on your break, please do me a favour one day and take an hour or two off to give Rochelle a try. (No, I’m not condoning pulling a sickie, however you wouldn’t go to hell for it either).
It was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust completely when it comes to food. M and I went on a morbidly freezing afternoon and due to my horrific sense of direction, it took us 25 minutes to find it when it really should have taken 5. In my defence, it isn’t the easiest place to find.
We entered via the boys’ entrance of the school and pressed the buzzer named ‘Canteen’ to which we were let in.
The menu is seasonal and changes daily and it is BYO (Bring your own) with a £5 corkage fee per bottle. I wish I had done my research beforehand as I really did want a big fat glass of wine (when don’t I?). Anyway, they don’t serve alcohol so I opted for some H20. The people who frequent Rochelle Canteen are the stylish, east end creatives, artsy types, restaurant explorers and your one or two yummy mummies.
I was very impressed with the menu, especially the starters and was already thinking about sending D a thank you text for the recommendation before I had even put anything in my mouth.
Like I said before it was FREEZING, morbidly so, therefore it made sense to go for the tempting ‘Chicken Broth and Dumplings’ to start. This arrived PIPING hot, so after 5 minutes or so of blowing to prevent second degree burns on my tongue, I slurped the broth which was (I can’t believe I am using this word on here but) AMAZING! In fact everything about it was impeccable, the chicken and the dumplings were a great pairing and I soon forgot about the cold outside.
I had not seen sprat (small marine fish) on a menu for as long as I can remember and M and I were very eager to give this a try. They were faultless, well-seasoned, came deep fried and every single part of each sprat we consumed. More restaurants should include them on their menu; I would choose sprats over tuna any day. Perfection.
The ‘Braised Rabbit and Buckwheat Pasta’ was chosen for my main. It wasn’t the best way I’d have my rabbit prepared but I’m giving it a 6 out of 10. A bit too salty, I wasn’t a fan of the pasta which was slightly undercooked. The dish wasn’t for me but you could still see that the quality of the dish (apart from the pasta maybe) was to a high standard.
M chose the ‘Veal Escalope, Cucumber & Kohlrabi’ and enjoyed it fully. His verdict was that the meat was flavoursome, well-seasoned and the golden breadcrumbs had a hint of sweetness. I sampled some and agreed, the only breadcrumbed meat I advocate is chicken but this was made really well.
I did mention previously that the menu changes everyday, so I would definitely be curious to go a few times more to see what they’ll be serving. The food is so homely (and I don’t mean your mother’s cooking), of superior quality with fresh produce, seasonal and freshly prepared right in front of you. A hidden gem in its own right, you can bet your ass that I did send that ‘Thank you for recommending’ text message.
London E2 7ES