It was a warm, balmy evening in Highbury, and though we had no plans to eat out, the hunger pangs got the better of us. That’s when we stumbled upon Franks Canteen on the high street, a tiny black-fronted restaurant that looked pleasant enough for casual dining.
The interior was simple, with just 20 or so covers. The decor was uncluttered with unpretentious chairs alongside equally unpretentious tables and a couple of tall stool chairs with views over the street all donned with pleasant dim lighting. It all felt comfortable.
Turns out the restaurant is named after head chef/owner Paul Warburton’s son. Ironically Frank is allergic to so many foods that he can’t readily eat here.
Food & Drink
We took our seats and were told that the menu was populated with sharing plates. The waitress suggested we pick four or five and just allow for these to come as they are prepared. I was happy with that as I sometimes order a range of starters rather than opting for the main meal when dining out with friends.
I am not sure what we hoping for, but what we got so surpassed the boundaries of expectations our minds were blown by the creativity, the generous portions and the flavours.
First to arrive was a plate of chunky pieces of St John sourdough served with a very morish whipped salted honey butter. We had to reign in our desire to devour the lot as we still had lots to look forward to.
Then came the Kent asparagus, beurre noisette hollandaise, topped with roasted hazelnuts – this is not just hollandaise, this is brown butter sauce that already has a nuttyesque flavour and in concert with the nut topping made it superb.
Soon the Brixham mackerel, pan con tomate and sour cream landed. The mackerel was soft, almost melt in the mouth and when eaten with the sourcream was particularly special.
The last dish the Blood sausage bun, jalapeno salsa, chopped egg aioli, shoestring fries made quite the finale. We could not have imagined more flavour inside a single bun, indeed this was a whole meal in itself.
We downed our food with a gin and tonic but there are other cocktails, including a Plum Sake Manhatten, and wines on the menu.
PS. They do amazing breakfasts too. Check out the lead picture, it’s charred asparagus, Parmesan, pickled shallots, tomatoes, and a fried egg all served in a bap.
Check out the menu here.
VERDICT:Franks Canteen appears a humble space but what comes out of their kitchen is haut cuisine. This is a restaurant to put on the bucket list.