Review: River Cottage Canteen, Winchester
Winchester city centre has got to be one of the best for providing families with a great day of shopping with the benefit of a nearby park for children to let off steam during the day. The city’s central park; Abbey Gardens, is just around the corner from the Cathedral and not only has green areas for picnicking but a stream running through it, as well as a hugely popular play park for children. So what else could you possibly introduce to make it one of the top destinations for families in Winchester? Yes that’s right, an award winning, famous producer and chain, the River Cottage Canteen. The newest to open since Bristol, the Winchester canteen is set in a beautiful Old Mill that was dying to be brought back to life and really is a fantastic place to socialise with friends and family. I was lucky enough to find out one weekend for a traditional Sunday lunch with friends.
As you enter the canteen through glass doors you are met and taken to your seats straight away. We were given a table in the upstairs vaulted mezzanine which is quite something. You would think the high ceilings would make it less cosy and comfortable but the atmosphere and low level lighting made for an enclosed and warming dining space. I was pleasantly surprised to see an array of relaxed diners with their families, exactly the vibe you need for Sunday lunch. Children are also given plenty of things to do to keep them occupied, as we know, if little ones are happily entertained it relaxes any parent hoping for a peaceful lunch.
We were given breads, oils and dips as entres on the table to share so we opted to go straight in for the Sunday Roast omitting a starter. Everything on the menu is seasonally sourced stating who has provided the produce, this is a superb way to support local producers and allows the diner to contact the producer should they have been impressed enough to want to buy direct. The roast did not disappoint and was a generous size, accompanied by a huge helping of seasonal vegetables, some we had not even heard of but all tasted great.
As is often the case, a hearty portion can mean there is no room for dessert, this was certainly the case for our group! All bar one, who couldn’t resist the tempting seasonal cake, it was a new taste sensation for her young palate but certainly went down well.
The service was exceptional and all our needs were met at every stage, we just wished we could have managed more. I suppose this way, we will have to go back for another sitting, which we are more than happy to do. However do make sure you book early as tables are very popular, especially at the weekends and even more so over the Christmas Shopping season.