Friday, 11 March 2011

A review of acanteen

 45 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0ND

*New pictures added February 2012

Tucked away from the main hubbub of the town centre, this masterfully created piece of cafe culture seems quite at odds with the rest of this otherwise chain-saturated cityscape. If lucky enough to happen across it (or to have a well informed acquaintance generous enough to tell you where it is) you will be pleasantly surprised by its sprightly atmosphere enriched by a varied customer base and young, energetic staff. 

The feel of acanteen is quite antipodean, whether intentionally or not, and having visited a number of cafes in our other hemisphere I am always taken aback to find their distinctive character captured somewhere you’d least expect it. 

The name – acanteen – fits the establishment perfectly as its well worn wooden tables and chairs (some clearly rescued from a church at some point) do not detract from the overall clinical ambience synonymous with the word ‘canteen’. 

An eclectic mix of breakfast classics and unusual salads including roasted butternut squash, chilli and pomegranate as well as more substantial club sandwiches make this the perfect haunt for any time of day.  The large selection of cakes, pastries and muffins also adorning the counter top make it very difficult to avoid accidentally ordering something sweet to go with your mid morning latte.

I love the food here – it’s affordable, delicious and the menu’s varied enough for you not to get bored. I also love the feel of the place. It’s warm, welcoming and the communal seating arrangements encourage customers to dine amongst strangers – something which always gets me excited. Even in busy periods, the atmosphere is of convivial chaos, not full blown pandemonium. 

When ordering I was told up front which parts of the menu where unavailable and informed that there was a wait for food. This approach instantly put me at ease as I could make the decision whether to stay or go and not get riled waiting for my food as I was satisfied in the knowledge that it would turn up eventually. 

My only bug bear with this place is that the menu is often obscured by a long and impatient queue of people which you must navigate carefully to access the holy text. It’s also often quite hot – but now I’m clutching at straws. This place is awesome – I will and do go back again and again. 

Check out their website, or find them on Facebook

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