Right recipe for success
GROWING up in Kentish Town in the 1980s and 90s, it was tradition to visit Ace Sports – then at number 300 Kentish Town Road – every summer to pick out a bag and pair of trainers and
KENTISH CANTEEN, 300 Kentish Town Road, NW5 Tel: 020 7485 7331
GROWING up in Kentish Town in the 1980s and '90s, it was tradition to visit Ace Sports - then at number 300 Kentish Town Road - every summer to pick out a bag and pair of trainers and collect my custard-yellow sports kit for the new school year.
Spending what seemed like hours pleading with my mum for an extra fiver so I might get a pair of Reeboks with just the right detailing, I would look longingly at the awesome bubbles lodged in the soles of shoes far outside my budget.
Latterly the confidently-acronymed restaurant RED - or Really Excellent Dining - took on the address and helped to create a few more fond memories for a different section of Kentish Town.
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Now Kentish Canteen has cropped up in its wake and, after sampling its delights, I see no reason for it to not become a Kentish Town institution just like Ace Sports before it.
The restaurant has an eclectic menu and, as well as the hot kitchen food, it takes pride in its cold offerings from the larder.
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Proprietor Wendy Sinclair has an impressive track record, including Holborn's hugely successful Brazilian bar and restaurant Guanabara.
She is hoping to cultivate a relaxed atmosphere offering relatively cheap but quality food, and wants to encourage an ethos of sharing.
As an anti-murder reviewer (or "vegetarian" to you flesh-eaters), I roped in a few friends to taste some of the meat dishes on offer - and luckily the larder and kitchen had plenty of veggie options.
The roast butternut squash, feta, red onion, sage and pumpkin seed salad was pick of a delectable starter selection, which also included beautifully crisp French beans cooked with charred courgettes, rocket, pinenuts and chilli, and an interesting Naanjing black rice salad with mango, sprint onion, soy and sesame.
The only slight down note was a complaint from my fish-feeding friend that the grilled coconut squid was a little too charred.
Given our dietary limitations, it proved difficult to share our perfectly presented mains.
I wolfed down my distinctive and delightfully textured ricotta and pinenut dumpling with charred aubergine and sage butter. Divine.
My carnivorous counterpart could not stop singing the praises of his parmesan-crusted fried chicken, with rocket salad and aioli, and an excellent bottle of Spanish red from an excellent wine list.
Desserts really were the icing on the cake - a beautifully rich chocolate pot and a rhubarb and strawberry crumble that everyone agreed was the best they had ever tasted.
After gleefully devouring a scrumptious vanilla panna cotta with nectarine compote, my equally gleeful friends informed me that I had just eaten the one non-vegetarian dessert on the menu.
But despite one unwelcome dose of gelatine, the evening was a treat and I will be certain to return.
Mains: from �8 to �13.50