canteen outside

The Canteen, Bristol

Canteen Banksy

Now an institution of Stokes Croft, The Canteen is most commonly known for being the place where you’ll find the famous ‘Mild Mild West’ Banksy, some unusual Stokes Croft characters and an assortment of pretty tasty music. We spoke to Jamie Pike, one of its co-founders to find out just a little bit more about The Canteen.

1. What inspired The Canteen?

The Canteen came from a need for the Coexist project in Hamilton House to have a place to eat, drink and be merry. We imagined what kind of place we would like to go to at different times of the day and night and the vision for the Canteen was born! We wanted a place where we could eat delicious, locally sourced, globally inspired food without bankrupting ourselves. We wanted a place that sold great local beers and ciders and stocked our favourite teas, spirits and wines. And we wanted to hear brilliant live music every night for free…somehow we managed to get close. 

The canteen terrace bristol

2. When did The Canteen first open?

The Canteen first opened for my birthday 30th July 2009.

Canteen before it opened

Canteen before it opened…. note the surprisingly disapproving signs

3. How many beers are on tap and what’s the best drink you have to try?

There are 10 beers on tap, whilst you need to try Sharps Cornish Lager – voted best lager in the world this year! 

canteen beers

4. What’s behind the name?

Its because Hamilton House is an old office building and it is essentially the “Canteen” for the building. 

canteen outside

5. Who runs The Canteen?

We have an amazing team headed up in the front of house by Carolyn Hegg, and Christabel Courtauld in the kitchen. 

6. Why did you open in Stokes Croft?

When I was setting up the Coexist project we needed a place to eat, drink and be merry…so more about creating a link between Stokes Croft and Hamilton House.  

peoples-republic-of-stokes-croft-sign

7. Favourite thing about Bristol?

The high concentration of open creative souls and the way that if you have a good idea in Bristol people really want to you realise your dream.

canteen bristol map8. What inspired the decor?

My brother Matt takes all the credit for that. He is an artist at heart and wanted to create a space in which everyone would feel relaxed, at home and a part of a buzzing community. 

canteen music

9. Who was the first act to play the Canteen?

My dear old friend Jack Pescod.

10. Any famous visitors?

Roger Waters from Pink Floyd playing on a Thursday lunchtime was memorable and Nigel Slater enjoyed dinner here.

11. Favourite character that pops into The Canteen? 

Not John The Baptist! Probably the Misfits Theatre Company.

12. Best moment for The Canteen?

That’s a hard question. Every time there is a really diverse crowd in, eating, drinking, dancing and being merry.

canteen dancing

13. Worst moment?

Bleeding madman throwing furniture and threatening to cut people on the front deck? Don’t worry, he hasn’t been back!

canteen dog

Attacker probably not pictured….

14. Craziest moment?

When we had an interactive comedy dance troop called Impermanence gyrating on the tables in sequins. 

canteen impermance

Impermanence

15. And any other things about The Canteen that people don’t know?

We are the proud holders of a three star award from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, their highest rating. Oh and its founding directors still can’t afford to buy a house in Bristol…

A big thanks to Lilja Photography for the spectacular Canteen photos. 

Want more good places to eat and drink? Head over to bars of bristol.

Sam Gillies, the founder and editor of Best of Bristol. Purveyor of numerous Bristol lists, guides & videos. Most likely found attempting to find interesting street art across Bristol and other cities.

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