Sooo… Journal Cafe was already my favourite cafe in the CBD… great food, relaxed atmosphere.. busy but not too busy… and, of course, a fantastic fit-out. So it’s surprising it has taken me this long to finally visit Journal’s lunchtime offshoot – Canteen.

Journal Canteen is the successful result of a very simple premise. It’s a no-nonsense lunch spot – it’s tucked in a room upstairs off the main street (the clientele aren’t passers-by, they’re regulars), it’s only open for lunch (12.00-3.30 weekdays), it has a limited but very tasty menu, and the service is super-quick (you can be in, fed, and out again in 30 mins). On offer daily is an antipasto selection, a soup, 3 mains and 1 dessert option. The staff are great, but they don’t encourage lingering – there’s no reading material… and not even a coffee machine – but you can order a stovetop espresso, or pop downstairs to Journal after your meal for a caffeine fix. Canteen is all about great food, plain and simple – no fanfare, no fuss.

Design-wise, Canteen has all the hallmarks we’ve come to expect from the CBD’s boiling pot of independent cafes and eateries… The interior is typically utilitarian – the space is furnished mainly with communal tables and school chairs (yeah, getting a bit everywhere but they do look good). The large, older style windows offer excellent natural light… and the kitchen is open and visible to the dining room – so you can see, hear and smell the chefs at work. Love that! In fact, apparently the CAE offers cooking classes and demonstrations in this very space in the evenings… which would be great! Must research that.

Overall… a great lunch-time experience. I recommend the entree-sized antipasto. The perfect combination of meats, cheeses and vegies… just enough variety for 1 hungry person, and the best value on the menu at just $15.00.

Journal Canteen
Level 1, 253 Flinders Lane
Melbourne CBD

pssst – another great review by Gourmet Traveller is here

Delicious antipasto. highlights – thinly shaved marinated zucchini, creamy eggplant in a napoli-style sauce, and roasted red capsicum with tasty salami… mmm..