Pocket Number 16: Monstera Canteen, 52 Cheapside

Monstera Canteen is a vegan café restaurant with décor themed on Instagram’s favourite indoor plant – the monstera – aka ‘swiss cheese plant’. There is a resident monstera plant, monstera leaf heatpads and half the walls are painted monstera green.

Luton has certainly populated my consciousness with monstera. There is a monstera named Elsie at my place of work. Elsie has been alive since at least 1989, long before instagram. Superstition holds the Law Centre will fall once Elsie / LC dies.

Monstera Canteen’s resident monstera appears to be thriving with deep green leaves and almost no discoloured edges but in case it dies there is also a plastic monstera on standby.

I already have history with Monstera Canteen. On Saturdays when I have extra work to catch up on I squat a table there and busy myself on my laptop for a few hours while listening to Greg sing harmonies to the tunes being played.

Two weeks earlier I had forgotten my mobile in their restroom resulting in Greg returning to the café after closing time to retrieve it – writing this all out now I realize I am a nightmare customer. Greg and Adriana truly are longsuffering and accommodating hosts. 

I routinely enjoy the Canteen’s rice kebabs – a bed of rice cushioning flavoured strips of soy, carrot and cabbage slaw, pickles, sauerkraut and salad, and lashed with mayo and siracha stripes. There are lots of other tasty options such as salsa loaded fries and vegan burgers.

Greg used to manage Rivergate Tattoo parlor a few strides up Cheapside road before starting up Monstera Canteen as a business venture six months before the difficult COVID pandemic period. The business is back open now and Greg says custom is starting to pick up again.

Adriana has been with the business almost since the start and recently graduated from culinary school. It was Adriana who discovered and rescued my mobile from the restroom. Thank you Adriana.

I explained to Greg and Adriana about what I was doing and Greg sent me to his local Bangladeshi restaurant  – Baltistan – on Hitchin Road. He said Baltistan is very accommodating to vegans and also that there is an all-you-can-eat buffet on Sundays.

Greg bequeathed to the montage a comatose timer and a Monstera sticker. The comatose timer was accidentally dropped into the deep fat fryer on its 1st day and instantly rendered comatose. Its LCD screen still displays, but incoherently.

Pocket Number 17: Kassim at Baltistan >>

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