BRAIN FOOD: Canteen culture - Ford UK, Brentwood

BRAIN FOOD: Canteen culture - Ford UK, Brentwood - Entree On the site of a former army barracks, the staff canteen at this Ford plant in darkest Essex retains a military feel. As you enter the dingy diner you are issued with knives, forks and plates, all

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Entree On the site of a former army barracks, the staff canteen at this Ford plant in darkest Essex retains a military feel. As you enter the dingy diner you are issued with knives, forks and plates, all stamped with the company logo, and a curt notice announces that the use of mobile phones is forbidden. The experience leaves you wondering whether you'll be expected to sing the national anthem before starting to eat.

Main dish Roast beef and Yorkshire pud, Cumberland sausage with onions and pan-fried beefsteak and mushrooms are typical fare. Wholesome if you're Delia Smith; stodgy if you're Nigella Lawson - although everything is proudly labelled GM-free. On a good day there are excellent pork escalops with a stilton-and-leek sauce, at a very affordable pounds 1.66 (cabbage an extra 16p). Prices like these would make any war veteran happy and no doubt account for the canteen's popularity with Ford pensioners, who can dine here after 1.45pm.

Dessert Ford saves its best reminder of institutional life till last - semolina pudding with strawberry jam. Those of a more contemporary cast of mind can choose from the usual fresh fruit or yoghurt. Overall, it's not exactly health food but at least the mayo is low-cal and the cooking oil is sunflower - which could double as an alternative fuel for the next generation of Ford cars.

Whine list The decor could do with some work - no trace here of the recently acquired design flair that has made the new Mondeo such a hot seller.

With 1,100 patrons it's undeniably popular, but then, stuck out in Brentwood, one isn't exactly spoiled for choice.

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