Street food in Leicester would usually conjure up ideas of a heavy nights drinking followed by a kebab of uncertain origin that would almost certainly be lived to regret the next day. However, around a year ago I began to hear whispers of rather fabulous event held in Birmingham called Digbeth Dining Club, the idea of street food for foodies really appealed to me and I vowed to visit but then never had the inclination/was too lazy/too busy to travel all the way to Birmingham on a Friday Night. Enter CANTEEN, bringing the street food trend to Leicester, offering a whole host of creative and innovative local street food vendors and proving once again that Leicester is definitely not shit!
Last Friday night was C and I's second visit. So being as we are now aficionados I thought i'd share a few tips on what to expect...
- Arrive early, CANTEEN gets busy, with around 800 people turning out to the last few events its a good idea to get there early so you can take your time, browse a little and be sure to get a plate or two of food before the traders sell out. The doors open at 5pm till around 10. there's live music, DJ and a few bars so its well worth making a night of it.
- Take cash, and plenty of loose change. None of the traders take cards and having the correct change speeds up the process considerably.
- Work the room, or courtyard, have a good stroll round first to decide what you want, then go for it!
- It's worth sampling a few dishes too. The variety of Traders, from burgers to waffles via greek platters and halloumi fries, means there's something for everyone.
- Expect to bump into everyone you know, seriously! It's so rare for me to bump into anyone I know these days in Leicester so it was a lovely surprise to catch up with some old faces, and meet a few new friends too!
- Be prepared to que, this is part of the fun, grab yourself a drink and get in line, you'll be able to watch your food being cooked to order at some of the stands too! A few more traders were added to the bill for last nights event which meant the ques were a little shorter and the traders a little less under pressure.
- Beware of que jumpers- do not tolerate this behaviour, its just rude.
- If in doubt- divide and conquer. C and I joined separate ques, I was in charge of obtaining the burgers, whilst C was on a bao & Kimchi mission. We then reconviened to share our spoils.
- Eating is mostly done standing up, unless you really do get there early enough to bag yourself a seat.
- Be kind to the traders, these guys work so incredibly hard and get absolutely hammered so be patient and courteous, obvs!