Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Guardian canteen

Those letters just itch to be changed around...

My companion's hot fish sandwich 'goujons'

The modern dining room with Arne Jacobson style chairs and brightly coloured lampshades.

Indian curry main course, chutney and rice. Freshly cooked, well spiced.

View of the canal at Kings Cross

And I didn't even have to resort to this...

"It's the wavy building up on the right" a guy told me. I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't see what he meant. Drawing closer to The Guardian and Observer headquarters I noted that it was indeed wavy and silver. 
Through the shopfront window you can see letters spelling The Guardian and The Observer, each letter on a stand. 
"Somebody working nights changed the stands around so it spelt Grauniad(Private Eye's name for this paper due to it's typos) my companion explained "so they glued all the posts down on the floor".
There was a chic sandwich and tea bar but I preferred to check out the canteen. I was impressed. Guardian journalists eat much better than BBC staff. I didn't even have to resort to my little plastic box (containing anchovies, pickled green peppercorns, capers and fresh basil leaves and a lemon) that I carry around in order to perform a bit of table-top cuisine when the food threatens to be unpalatable.
The vegetarian main was curry, aubergines, peppers, courgettes, a sort of curried ratatouille, slick with oil and spices. The mango chutney was no doubt ready-made but it made a change to be offered some, you usually don't get that in a canteen. With the rice and the salad, it only cost £3. 
Leaving to go down to the wine bar, I saw a striking skinny woman with tanned bare legs, tiny shorts (verging on 'batty riders') and towering butter yellow high-heeled shoes.
"Wow" I couldn't help remarking "she must be from the fashion department surely"
"No she's..." my companion waited till the woman, teetering, turned her head "yes it's Polly Vernon. She sometimes writes about food for us".
"She writes about food?" I exclaimed.
"Mostly about cocktails".
If you get a chance to eat there, take it. It's the journalistic equivalent of eating at the' stars commissary' at Paramount studios where, in the old days, you'd see Lana Turner with a tray, Ava Gardner picking at salad, her hair bound up in a turban, Clark Gable asking for a refill of coffee.
At the Guardian canteen, star columnists, who you recognise from photos on mastheads, are refuelling during lunch,  just like ordinary mortals. Admittedly, against all hopes, I did not spot Jay Rayner, the Observer's restaurant reviewer, toying with a tuna and sweetcorn sarnie. 

Marlene Dietrich, eating at the Paramount commissary


  1. Wow, my local! You can almost see my flat through the window in that shot!


  2. I remember reviewing this place for my first London Word post.


    I guess not!
    I thought it was pretty good compared to the BBC canteen.

  4. The reporter I ate with prefaced lunch with "you will be sick"

  5. Do you really carry around a little plastic box like that?

    I'd love to see a picture :)

  6. Meemalee, just for you...I've put up a picture...

  7. It looks better than the salads you can get in Eat or Pret :)

    Cheers, MsML!


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