My mum loves coming down to London to visit every once in a while so I thought it would be nice to treat her to lunch at The Modern Pantry on Mother’s Day. After all, this is the day to pamper her and show her just how grateful you are that she has put up with your endless tantrums over the years.
Anna Hansen has gained a lot of column inches recently, especially after her recent pop up Pantry at Meza in Soho, so as she was at the forefront of my mind, I decided to book a table at her full-time restaurant, The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell.
The graceful historic Georgian Townhouses and laid back atmosphere of Clerkenwell was a refreshing change to the horific crowds in central London that we had endured the day before – tempers frayed. In better moods, we arrived at The Modern Pantry and were shown to our table in the light and airy upstairs dining room.
We were given the menu and I was surprised (pleasantly) to see that the three course meal was £23.50 and only a mere £11.75 for the mother. We had a sneaky peak at the menu online a few days before and I was excited to try Anna Hansen’s signature fusion dishes.
Three delightful sounding starters graced the menu and we were told that you get a small plate of all three if you opt for the three courses. We did and the starters came our way. First was the Salmon Sashimi with Truffled Yuzu Soy dressing. The Salmon melted in the mouth and was complimented very well by the bright green popping Fish Roe and the delightful subtle Truffle dressing.
We had to wait another 10 minutes for the second dish of Chorizo and Water Chestnut sticky Rice balls with Tahini Moromi Miso Cream – I couldn’t make out the water Chestnut or the Chorizo, nonetheless it was a fabulous couple of mouthfuls. The Tahini however really shone out.
I think our third starter was forgotten about – plates were taken away and a fresh set of cutlery brought over. We had to remind the waiter 15 or so minutes later that we were still waiting for our third starter of Feta, Okra, Currant and Coriander fritters with sweet Tomato Yoghurt. He apologised and it was quickly delivered to the table. The consistency of the fritter was similar to that of a bhaji – the Tomato Yoghurt on the top was delicious with a sweetness from the Tomato but with a tang from the Yoghurt. I couldn’t get a strong taste of the currants but the texture really came through, delicious.
Before we arrived at the restaurant, I had been saying that I didn’t want a roast dinner but seeing the Sage and Garlic marinated loin of Pork with Green Pepper relish on the menu, I couldn’t resist. Just the right portion size, the Potatoes were fluffy and oily rich, the Pork tender and the roast veg well seasoned. The only criticism was that the gravy proportion wasn’t quite right – I would have liked a bit more.
My mum opted for the pain fried South Coast Pollack with Garlic and Curry Leaf Potato Gratin, pickled Butternut Squash, Daikon and Enoki salad with a Green Chilli dressing and boy was this a good dish. She was very happy that she was getting to eat something ‘a bit different’ and the flavours on this plate worked really well. The pickled butternut squash and enoki mushrooms were a delight.
We were treated to a Shiso Granita before the dessert. Shiso is a herb from the Mint family and was bitter sweet with an aftertaste similar to Grapefruit. A great little palette cleanser.
The Chocolate Mousse cake with Blackcurrant and Liquorice sorbet with Lychee compote arrived and it was no small plate. Already feeling full, I struggled to eat the whole plate (which is not like me at all) and in the end it defeated me. The Blackberry and Liquorice sorbet was a wonder – firstly getting the strong Liquorice flavour, followed by a more subtle Blackberry. The Lychee compote was less of a compote and more like macerated Lychee slices. The Chocolate Mousse cake was the highlight for me, rich, sweet and light. It reminded me of a Chocolate Fondant – warm and almost gooey in the middle.
Despite slighly shoddy service, we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and walked out with smiles on our faces. We also both felt extremely full but very relaxed. That’s what The Modern Pantry will do to you and I can’t wait to revisit with my boyfriend to show him the delights.
The Modern Pantry
48 St. John’s Square
London EC1V 4JJ
020 7553 9210