The Modern Pantry: A glorious SUNday brunchPosted: February 28, 2012
The Modern Pantry, located in St. John’s Square in Islington, quickly rose to repute after it opened in August 2008. It was named a Bib Gourmand in the 2009 and 2010 Michelin Guide and its owner, Anna Hansen recently received an MBE for services to the restaurant industry. Deservedly so. I can definitely recommend the restaurant for brunch and will be going back to try lunch in the near future.
Upon being seated at our table on the first floor, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful sunshine streaming in from its East-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. In February, no less. The second thing I noticed was how spaced out the tables were. It would have been easy to squeeze a few more seats in but instead, I was able to enjoy a meal without someone else’s elbow in my face. I am a strong believer that the ambience of a restaurant is almost (almost!) as important as the quality of the food. Especially when catching up with an old friend, which is what ILFF and I were doing.
We started off the meal with a trio of refreshing Passionfruit Bellinis (£9.75). I mean, it’s not brunch if it’s not boozy, right?
I selected the Coconut, Cassava and Ricotta pancakes with Berry Compote (£8.70). The coconut flavour was subtle. In fact, it was so subtle that I could not taste it. It’s a shame, as I think that using coconut flakes instead of whatever the kitchen used (coconut milk, I would assume?) would have given the dish a better texture. The pancakes were still very tasty, thick and filling, if a bit stodgy due to the ricotta. I only managed to have one!
Both L and ILFF opted for Full Englishes (£8.70 each); L went traditional with smoked streaky bacon, slow-roast tomatoes and buttered mushrooms, while ILFF decided to be a bit out there and opted for the grilled chorizo and plantain fritters. L mentioned that hers was as solid as a Full English comes, while ILFF was skeptical on the plantains, which I suppose are an acquired taste. On second glance, they do look too thickly sliced and not fried nearly long enough, but perhaps I’m just stuck on the way my mom used to make them!
What I like most about The Modern Pantry is its ability to take ingredients native to opposite ends of the world and incorporate them in one unique and well-executed brunch menu. I greatly prefer it to the brunch menu at Hansen’s previous project, The Providores, where some of the combinations (Grilled Chorizo with Sweet Potato and Miso Mash, for example… I cringed just thinking about it!) don’t work. And, even if you end up hating the food, at least you will get a healthy dose of Vitamin D!