Brain Food: Canteen culture - HP Invent, Bracknell

Brain Food: Canteen culture - HP Invent, Bracknell - Entree: A job in the canteen at HP Invent could take you further than you think. Rumour has it that high-flying new CEO Carly Fiorina was once a waitress in the restaurant at global HQ in Cupertino, bac

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Entree: A job in the canteen at HP Invent could take you further than you think. Rumour has it that high-flying new CEO Carly Fiorina was once a waitress in the restaurant at global HQ in Cupertino, back when the company's name was plain old Hewlett-Packard. Given that illustrious history, it's a pity the dining area at the UK head office isn't a bit smarter.

Efforts to re-brand HP as a funky new e-business don't seem to have penetrated this far. Compared to the glass and steel modishness of the main building, the canteen is dowdy.

Main dish: But first impressions can mislead. All drinks are free (but no alcohol), there is a wide choice of hot and cold food and the informative, frequently changed menu flags up vegetarian, low-fat and low-calorie options to make life easy for conscientious diners. The food is wholesome, fairly tasty and very cheap. A bowl of soup for only 24p is good value by any standards.

Dessert: Tables can be booked in advance, just like a proper restaurant, avoiding the embarrassment of taking a client to eat only to find there's nowhere to sit. And, weather permitting, there's a pleasant terrace for al fresco dining. The company prides itself on being open-plan and open-minded, so the corporate top brass can regularly be seen here, elbow-to-elbow with the most junior staff.

Whine list: Decor aside, this is a workmanlike offering and pleasant enough.

Which is a good job - the office is at the far end of an industrial estate and there's nowhere else to go.

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