REVIEW: ACanteen in Chelmsford
PUBLISHED: 10:47 16 April 2019
Stephanie Mackentyre reviews ACanteen, a family-run restaurant on Chelmsford’s New London Road
With Easter just around the corner, it's a great time to get together with the family and relax. This family-run restaurant and bar was established in 2001 and was a finalist in the 2018 Essex Life Food & Drink Awards for Best Family Dining Destination.
You'll find ACanteen in the centre of Chelmsford, right beside the River Chelmer. Parking at the Meadows Car Park, it's a short stroll to the restaurant. The place was bustling when I arrived, with plenty of families gathered around the expansive tables, ladies lunching and friends catching up.
There is also a bakery at the very front of restaurant, with great slices of tempting homemade cakes, giant meringues and freshly baked pastries.
The menu is concise but all dishes are sure to please even the fussiest of eaters and there's a variety of local producers mentioned. A separate kids menu offers breakfast, lunch and even afternoon tea for the little ones, plus activity packs to keep them entertained.
For the grown-ups there's a chance to enjoy breakfast and brunches offered from 8am to 5pm, plus lunch or dinner (Friday and Saturday nights only). In the galley-style kitchen you can also see the impressive pizza oven with its inviting amber glow.
It was one of the stone-baked pizzas which I decided to try – there are seven different ones to choose from and they are also offered on a 2for1 basis from Monday to Friday. I picked Tobias with olive tapenade, Parma ham, feta, honey and figs.
The generous-sized pizza had a crispy base and the topping was finished off with a flourish of fresh rocket leaves. I can truly say it's one of the most flavoursome pizzas I've ever tasted.
ACanteen isn't the quietest place to dine, with kitchen clatter and the general hub bub of diners, but it is a very social atmosphere. The menu reflects a place for people to gather with sharing platters of fish, meats and vegetables.
There is a wide range of events too, from comedy nights and jazz to candle making workshops. You can, if you wish, hire the whole place for a private party, with plenty of room to spread out and a central bar.
I noticed, while thoroughly enjoying my pizza, that vegans can browse a separate menu while all of the pizzas can be adapted with vegan cheese.
For dessert I thought perhaps the home-baked cakes would be on the menu, but there was another half-dozen desserts, including raw vegan brownie and white chocolate cheesecake.
I enjoyed homemade apple, pear and ginger nutty crumble with stem ginger ice cream – a sophisticated-looking dessert, the seeds in the crumple adding the nuttiness and the ginger offering an interesting touch of heat.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £22.50 for two courses for one person plus a drink. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
Table Talk with Amanda Kerslake and her son, Hugo
Where do you live and what do you do?
I live in Bicknacre and I work in accounts.
What did you choose from the menu?
I chose a salad – roasted butternut squash, with avocado, pomegranate, carrot ribbons, toasted superseeds, lime and maple dressing. Hugo had the children's afternoon tea.
Why were you at ACanteen?
We often visit here for our tea.
Describe your dining experience in a phrase:
We enjoy the healthy, not processed food, using locally sourced produce, all served in a relaxing atmosphere.
What could they do better?
Sometimes the service can be a little bit slow if they are busy.
How would you rate the value for money?
Is it worth visiting again?
Yes, we are regular visitors.
What was the best part of your visit?
Definitely the food. I've never had a disappointing meal, it's always been really good.
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35 New London Road
Chelmsford | CM2 0ND