Court canteens — menus range from the ridiculous to the dangerous

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Ramsay and Oliver take note — culinary “delights” are increasingly on offer across the south east’s wide range of Crown Courts, where menus and interior design are not for the faint-hearted


No one expects to find haute cuisine at Her Majesty’s courts, but some of the meal deals recently on offer take the biscuit, as it were.

Legal Cheek‘s round up of canteens to avoid falls against the backdrop of reports yesterday that the cafe at Winchester Crown Court (trust Winchester to opt for “cafe” over “canteen”) is threatened with closure as no private caterer wants to pick up the outsourced contract.

According to the Hampshire Chronicle, the Courts and Tribunals Service is currently scrambling around trying to drum up bidders before the current dinner ladies hang up their hair nets at the end of August.

Our top tip for meals to avoid comes from Luton Crown Court. We are indebted to the South-eastern Circuit Twitter account for highlighting Barrister Blogger Matthew Scott and his image of this tremendous “lunch special” on offer at Luton’s canteen.


There’s nothing like scoffing a toasted tea cake in a bid to bag a balanced diet. And that must be butter from the milk of the rarest of rare breed cows and produced in gold-plated churns for it to come in at 50% of the cost of the main meal.

But at least Luton’s special doesn’t sound as though it could kill the hungry lawyer, contrary to this delicacy (image also courtesy of blogger Scott) on the menu at Woolwich Crown Court.


What initially appears to be soup of the day from the dawn of time, in fact was mushy peas. Nonetheless, it required the bravest of lawyers to tuck in.

All of which recalls Legal Cheek’s earlier coverage of a bizarre offer at the Kingston Crown Court canteen, where a manager with a sense of humour — or no taste buds — decided that scampi, yoghurt and coffee formed a combination of Michelin star status.


And if the culinary delights don’t threaten to send lawyers to the hospital, the actual canteen structures themselves might do the job.

Scott highlights Snaresbrook Crown Court, where the “bar mess” is — fittingly — in a right two and eight. He reports that area had to be cordoned off owing to a collapsing ceiling.


Perhaps that explains a general reluctance on the part of lawyers and punters to venture into the canteen generally, as Scott’s next piece of photographic evidence illustrates.


While unappetising cuisine and dangerous surroundings seem to be standard for the Courts Service, at least some venues are making an effort.


Scott points out that over at Harrow Crown Court, an official with a heart has attempted to brighten the luncheon ambiance with this slightly wobbly potted plant. Odds on its chances of survival?


Not Amused

There’s no real argument for Court canteens. ‘Bar messes’ just look odd and out of touch. As usual this is a poorly handled PR message at precisely the wrong time.

I’d rather that poor people got legal aid and I suspect that if the criminal bar thought about it a bit, they’d agree with me. Please stop giving Grayling ammunition and please start thinking a bit before you open your mouths.


Penny Rector

Surprising as it may seem, people attending court do need to eat. This includes not just the legal profession, but witnesses, court staff and Police Ofgicers.



They look fairly standard for any public service building – cf. police/hospital canteens. Not great but what do you expect?


Richard Reynolds

Go and look at the canteens in the central departments around Whitehall – not that they are fantastic but hell they are a lot better. How about a rule, the SoS for the relevant department must eat food no better than the average provided to the workers in their field.

Kind of like the old socialist argument about pay, except there is no valid argument about (paid for) lunch being part of your compensation. Everyone can go and buy something from outside, if they have time.

Still I understand they do try to feed the judges the same shite as the lawyers and clients so I guess that’s strike one for egalitarianism.


Gordon Parsons

Well MOJ done just that and got rid of the canteen at their Petty France HQ – there is a coffee bar but I understand most people eat out


Daniel Olive

i. The Supreme Court has a very good canteen. Big baked potatoes and beans or tuna.
ii. A bit of the ceiling in the atrium of Portcullis House, where lots of MPs have their officers, almost fell down. I was reminded by the taped off section. Incidentally, in PCH Grayling has a cafeteria, a sit down waiter service restaurant and a cafe bar. That might soften the blow of losing his cafeteria.


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