Modern Pantry

Thursday, 26 June 2014

This time around, my café/restaurant to do list had ballooned out to colossal proportions. Patiently waiting, The Modern Pantry had been hanging in there since 2012 - it was a long time coming. Anna Hansen and her team's modern diner flickered on my radar with their take on delicious seasonal eating. Luckily during this trip I found myself in Clerkenwell time and time again. The lure of coffee most certainly had something to do with it.

Pretty as a picture, right? Hands down, dessert of the trip i.e. perfection on slate. The blood orange curd tart that pulverises the competition, seriously.

This café definitely signals the good things to come for London. reminiscent of Bills for it's all-day dining versatility, Modern Pantry prides itself on a menu that changes daily reflecting the best produce on offer. Speaking of which, the menu is a complete tome with a 2 course daily special also on offer. Several visits are probably in order, or just show up with a big bunch of friends so you can plate swap (does anyone else do this?).

The sleek interiors by Colevin Interiors. The copper lamp accents add a nice touch. The private dining room upstairs is also not to be sniffed at Credit: Colevin Interiors

Happily caffeinated, A and I proceeded to suss out what everyone else was ordering, the choices were quite extensive. The downstairs café has a lovely airiness to it, punctuated with all that white. Upstairs there is a more formal restaurant style dining room as well as a private room for hire. Adjacent to the café is a little shop window filled with magnificent takeaway meals which are sold rather promptly (work lunch, you see) as well as some beautiful gifts - preserves made in house, canvas printed tote bags and the like. It was just getting better and better for me. 

Cappuccino and matcha latte. Okay, so they looked like they've been served to us off floor tiles but anyway! The cappuccino was actually not half bad (it's all about low expectations)

The service was a bit haphazard at times. We sat for the better part of an hour twiddling our thumbs waiting for the lunch menu to be available and ready to order. Quite bizarre considering kitchens have been prepping for the better part of the morning for whole day of service? We were then shifted to another table mid coffee because  our initial table had been booked for a group. Well okay then... Lucky I'm on holiday and not in a grumbly type of mood.

Crispy juniper and fennel braised pig's cheek, celeriac remoulade, pickled mustard seed and apple dressing. This was a stellar start to the meal, this was restaurant quality food knocked out of a modest kitchen. The pig cheek was perfectly crispy and the apple mustard dressing added a complementary punch to the dish. Big tick

When our meals made it out the presentation was consistently beautiful, taking notes from the realms of fine dining. It was obvious that each ingredient was there to serve a purpose, not tampered with and unrecognisable. The food definitely did the talking, as it should always do.

Grilled miso marinated onglet steak, cassava chips (the starchy root vegetable origins of tapioca), Kalamata olive salsa. The steak was cooked well to medium rare but somehow remained quite chewy

Slow roast Gloucester old spot pork belly, edamame purée, curly kale, spring onion and almond pesto. This was a nice piece of pork belly although I found it a bit dry for my liking, perhaps it needed to be more of a braise with lashings of sauce. The purée was also a bit bland and lumpy...oops

Blood orange curd tart, cardamom ice cream, blood orange and grapefruit salsa. From the solid start of entrée to the slight dip in the mains, the dessert was the shining star fo' shizzle. I am such a sucker for a citrus curd tart and this was probably THE BEST. The tartness of the fruit was perfectly offset with sweetness from the curd and the cardamom ice cream was outstanding 

Modern Pantry has gone from strength to strength in its 6 years of operation. Chef Anna Hansen is obviously doing something right, spending her early years under the tutelage of Fergus Henderson (FERGUSSS!!!) and Stephanie Alexander (our home grown foodie hero). She's also written The Modern Pantry cookbook which I can't wait to get my paws on. Serving as a jack-of-all trades, MP caters for the ladies that lunch, the business luncheon or a raucous dinner party to be had in the comfort of a private dining room. Life couldn't get much sweeter in my book.

The Modern Pantry, an all occasion all-star

Thanks for reading!
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