Could it be? Finally, a reversal in the depressing trend of every other restaurant and store closing in the building across the street from me? First it was Roka, then it was Il Panino. A furniture store here and there, and then The Friendly Eating Place. This would not have been so bad had it not been for the fact that none of them were replaced. In the past ten years!
So slowly, the building across from me has become a sad, office-ghost town of sorts. It's one of several empty-ish buildings on this side of Mass Ave. The few lone remainders, Golden Touch Cleaners, University Wine Shop, and my beloved Garden At the Cellar, are among the few businesses left in that building. The trend is so sad, an entire blog has been dedicated to it.
So the other day, when I noticed that a new place had actually opened up in the old Friendly Eating Place location, I had to go check it out.
"Local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients are intrinsically better for you"
This is quoted directly from Jimmy Murray, co-founder of Canteen. Jimmy Murray, who previously founded Arrow Street Crepes, has teamed up with business partner Aaron Siegal to start this new venture. Canteen appears to be an environmentally-conscious restaurant that seeks to serve delicious, healthy food that is sustainable, seasonal and local. Furthermore, it aims to achieve green certification, and has a lot of other environmentally-focused goals.
And the food? It's fantastic! I loved my Green Goddess sandwich (pictured above), which was stuffed full of crazy fresh vegetables. For once I actually like the vegetable to meat ratio. Not that the meat isn't great. In my sandwich I enjoyed high quality roasted turkey (no salty processed cold cuts here!)
Special of the Day" $7.50 Roast pork with basil walnut pesto, broccoli rabe, and white bean puree
The special of the day was also fantastic, filled with juicy roast pork, flavorful pesto, and that lovely slightly bitter broccoli rabe (one of my favorite vegetables). Out of the two sandwiches, I slightly preferred this one, but they were both really good.
All sandwiches are made to order with Iggy's bread. During busy lunch times on a weekday, the service can be unpredictable. Bryan has gone four times, with the waiting time varying anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. They take time & care in making their sandwiches, which inevitably leads to slower service at times. It's worth it, but if you're in a hurry, you might want to go elsewhere. I understand it's a relatively new place, so hopefully as time goes by they will get more efficient.
I tried these fruit drinks they were selling and I loved them! Finally, a fizzy fruit drink that's not too sweet! It's made with pure juice and sparkling water, and has just the perfect combination of juice and sparkling water that it suits my tastes perfectly. I want to say it tastes similar to a 1:1 mixture of the two, but don't quote me on that! A 20 oz bottle is only around 120 calories, which tells you that it doesn't have that much sugar.
The space is bright, clean, airy, and relaxing and I'm loving the food. The portion sizes are rather large, and I personally cannot finish an entire sandwich (although Bryan usually does). The prices are slightly on the higher side (expect to spend $7-$10 for a sandwich), but they do use high quality ingredients. Considering this place is less than a 2 minute walk from my home, I'm sure I'll be back.
983 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
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