After you visit Rochelle Canteen, you’ll either want to keep the knowledge of its existence to yourself, or tell pretty much everyone you know about it. We fall squarely into the second category, because keeping great restaurants to ourselves wouldn’t be a smart plan for business. And we like business.
If you’re not already one of this restaurant’s many dedicated loyalists, the first thing to know about Rochelle Canteen is that you’ll need a booking. It’s located in the canteen of an old primary school, and unlike your school, this is a place people very much like spending time in. The whole thing is secluded behind a blue door in a beautiful walled garden, and it’s ridiculously pleasant. Dropping in unannounced will not likely lead to success.
Further separating itself from the education of your youth, this school canteen is owned by Margot Henderson, wife of Fergus, and a key figure in popularizing nose-to-tail eating. Some of that can be found on the menu, but the food here is moreso based around the best seasonal ingredients available at the time of your visit. You’ll likely find some wild game, some fresh vegetables, and there will always be excellent desserts.
Rochelle Canteen was once only open during daytime weekday hours, though they’ve recently started serving dinner on the weekend as well. But lunch will always be our favourite time to visit, when you can really take in the environment around you, and when the dining room is at its most relaxed. Breakfast here is also lovely, and after your first cup of tea, you’ll have forgotten entirely that you’re in the middle of a city heaving with building work and traffic.
Rochelle Canteen is a true London hidden gem. Whether you decide to tell anyone about it is up to you.
The restaurant usually has some kind of terrine or pate that’s very delicious, and perfect with toasted house bread. The cornichons add a nice hit of vinegar to cut the richness.
Whatever soup is on the menu when you visit is guaranteed to be very good. Order with confidence.
If it’s autumn and you see grouse or pigeon (the fancy free range kind, not the Trafalgar variety), order it. It’s more adventurous than the usual proteins and definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re into game, you’ll be happy.
The team here know how to please a crowd, and this delicious, creamy bowl of happiness is a case in point. Any stew that’s on the menu will be very good, and the chickpea and squid one they serve is also brilliant.
If you’ve ever wondered how good a salad can taste, this will be the example. It’s amazing what a bit of salt and proper mixing will do.
The puddings here will brighten up even the worst week. You know what to do.
The restaurant doesn’t have a license, but it’s BYOB with a reasonable £6.50 corkage charge. If you’ve forgotten entirely, the staff will recommend a good one a few minutes away - otherwise it’s soft drinks all the way.