Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi | Ask Your Questions Now ›

Restaurants & Bars

San Francisco Bay Area

Things to understand about Canteen


Restaurants & Bars 14

Things to understand about Canteen

MSK | Nov 10, 2006 04:13 AM

I've been seing chatter about this restaurant for so long and excited that we were finally able to visit this mid-week evening. I wasn't sure what to expect and felt that some explanation on this board would have been helpful. I should add that we went for dinner and I have yet to experience breakfast or lunch.

Canteen is a 19 seat diner style restaurant. 2 booths of 2, 2 of 4
and 7 seats at the bar. That's larger groups, no squeezing in, no upgrades from the counter to table. There's just very little wiggle room. If you are looking for an intimate dining experience, choose another spot. This is a breakfast/lunch place turned dinner house with excellently prepared food but not much atmosphere for the $$.

They have 3 seatings per night. 6, 8 and 10. I saw many a diner come to the door mid-seating only to be sadly but politely turned away.

There are only 5 staffers.....2 Chef's, 2 waitstaff, 1 dishwasher.......they all work their butts off!! Efficient and courteous. They know their menu well.It was amazing watching them go through the cycle of a meal (from apps to deserts)for the whole room knowing that they have to start it all over again in a 1/2 hour.

The menu is small and changes daily so it's hard to categorize the offerings. I wondered why there were not listings of "had to have" entrees on this board. They obviously go with what's seasonal and fresh and what suits their fancy for the evening. There were 4 apps (including 1 soup and 1 salad), 4 entrees ( 1 vegi, 1 fish, 1 veal and 1 duck), and 4 deserts (1 souffle, 1 fruit based, 1 choc. and 1 cheescake).I have no idea if this is the norm but it seemed that it was planned to be well rounded. There is a chance, however, since the menu is so small, that you could come on a particular evening and not find something that suits your fancy.

We chose to try many things on the menu to share......something we like to do most evenings to experience the menu without getting too much food. From soup to nuts the food was well displayed and prepared. We sat at the counter with a menu in front of us to make sure we knew what each dish being prepared was. Every ingredient was "prep-ed" immediately before compiling the dish. Everything was fresh and colorful. We enjoyed watching the chefs do their "ballet" in their very tight space.

This was an excellent, fun and quick dining experience but if we had wanted more of an "evening out", it would not qualify. I can't wait to try it out again to see how he handles different menus.

I'm so glad for Chowhound or we never would have known about this quiet little gem.

PS Where's the best place to park in the area?? Yikes!

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound