Eating Out: River Cottage Canteen Winchester

Monday 6 July 2015 by

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats

High summer and it was about time to reunite with some old work friends, so five of us descended on Winchester to eat and gossip. L chose the River Cottage Canteen, a cute restaurant in a converted grade II listed Abbey Mill building in Abbey Mill Gardens, with light and airy rooms and long wooden trestle tables. It promises “freshly prepared seasonal, local, organic and wild food, on a regularly changing menu”, which always sounds good to me.

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats, Pan-fried pollack, Crab-crushed potatoes, Tomatoes, Capers

It’s still warm out, so I picked a light and fresh meal: pan-fried Pollack, crab-crushed potatoes, Isle of Wight tomatoes and capers and shared a side of grilled new season asparagus, Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella with lemon and black garlic (ask for it without croutons to make it gluten free). Alongside a citrusy glass of Trebbiano Poffio della Quercia Rubicone, this was the perfect summer meal.

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats, Gluten free bread

As an extra bonus, the service with fantastic – supplying me with warm, freshly baked gluten free bread without even asking (with a little dish of olive oil, whilst the others dined on fresh bread themselves).

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats, Asparagus, Buffalo mozzarella

The fish was light and fresh, crumbling under my fork, and the crab-crushed potatoes were a pure melt-in-the-mouth delight. The added acidity of the capers and lemon from the asparagus made it sharp and zingy. The asparagus was cooked to perfection as well – warm with an al dente bite. Rounded off with a dry white wine, it was sheer heaven on my tongue.

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats, Chocolate mousse cake, Caramel sauce, Gluten free, Whipped cream

Almost entirely filled up, I couldn’t resist sampling one of their desserts; they offer a range of gluten free options besides the standard ice cream, including honey and almond cake. But I have a weakness for chocolate, so picked the chocolate mousse cake, with whipped cream, caramel sauce and Lymington strawberries. Minus the strawberries, but with a bonus of flaked nuts, the mousse cake was a perfect chocolate balance, if a little heavy after the main.

River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, #HoBSummerEats, Menu

The whole experience was fantastic – the meals are reasonably priced, the service is amazing (fast, friendly and knowledgeable) – with a gorgeous setting (try and get a table near a window). Plus, I was in excellent company.

The menus change most weeks, but you can check out their range online for an idea of what they offer. There are canteens all over the place – Axminster, Bristol and Plymouth as well as Winchester – and you can book online for extra ease. For delicious, fresh, locally sourced food, it’s time to visit a River Cottage Canteen.

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