Set in a converted bike shed of an old school, Rochelle Canteen is a lesson in understated excellence
Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s Arnold Circus restaurant is one of the capital’s best kept secrets. The somewhat out-of-the-way venue has won many plaudits for its unfussy menu, and to dine there remains an exciting treat.
Opened in 2006, Rochelle Canteen sits in the converted bike shed of the old Rochelle School that looks out to the trees of Arnold Circus beyond, and is only accessible to diners via a buzzer. One might consider the restaurant’s apparently deliberate seclusion to be indicative of its own pretention, but this could not be further from the truth. With a mixture of interior and outdoor seating, whitewashed walls and muted décor, the restaurant is bright, airy and inclusive.
Rochelle serves a daily-changing selection of top quality, seasonal dishes that are free of any faff or elaboration, with breakfast, lunch and supper menus available. One day it can serve pork and prune terrine with plums, followed by poached chicken with tropea onions and peas. On another it might be nettle soup and quail eggs, with a dish of courgettes, tomatoes, butter beans and labneh for the main. Regular dessert options include poached rhubarb with meringue and cream; and chocolate brownie ice cream.
In 2018, Henderson and Arnold opened the Rochelle Bar and Canteen at The ICA, which serves a similarly eclectic menu of effortlessly appealing dishes. This newer location may boast a more prestigious postcode, but the original Shoreditch site will always be Rochelle Canteen’s spiritual home.