Classic British grub at the London Transport 1950s pop-up Canteen
I love a good pop-up restaurant or cafe and am a fan of retro interiors, so I was excited when Canteen and London Transport teamed up to create a 1950s-themed canteen for this year’s London Design Festival. TFL delved into their archives of photos of the staff canteen which used to fuel the bus and tube staff back in the 1950s, to recreate a contemporary vision of their former catering division.
The Canteen pop-up was located in Design Junction – one of the main venues of this year’s London Design Festival. The huge space within the Old Sorting Office in New Oxford Street was transformed into several levels of design celebration – mini showrooms, a cinema and pop-up bars and restaurant.
Like a staff canteen, we got in a small queue to choose our food and drink from the menus on the wall, against a backdrop of the familiar London Transport symbol. As it was lunchtime, we opted for the traditional British dish of pie and mash with gravy with a cup of Rosie Lee (slang for tea to those who might not know!). I loved the novelty of getting the food on a tray and trying to find a seat.
The seats in question were vintage patterned benches and lovely curved wooden chairs from furniture brands Very Good & Proper and Modus. As we sat down and tucked into what I would describe as tasty, comfort food, our scenery was old photos of transport workers tucking into their lunch on the wall. I was fairly peckish, so after my pie and mash, I ended up ordering fresh, hot scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam – yum!
All in all, the service was fast and friendly, the food was good value and tasty and the interior was cool… I just wish it was permanent. But isn’t that what makes pop-up venues so special?
After our leisurely lunch – fortunately as we weren’t actually TFL workers on a break, there was no clock-watching or work to rush back to – we checked out the displays and showcases on the three levels at Design Junction. Lots of treats for the eye and inspiration for the home.