A few weeks back I met with two fabulous friends on a Saturday morning at The Modern Pantry. Estelle and Flora were both due to host a party in honour of turning another year older which I wasn’t able to attend so this was our mini celebration. We remarked how before we had reached this kind of age (I’d like to point out I am the youngest of the trio), the thought of ‘brunch’ on a Saturday morning wouldn’t have even occurred to us, especially after a night on the sauce the night before. Feeling rather smug in our apparent sophistication, we ordered a Bloody Mary and a couple of Champagne cocktails to toast our new-found late twenties- early thirties chic.
I’ve never really been too excited about brunch before, being a non-eater of eggs. Brunch is a meal solely based around the humble egg and unfortunately despite trying continually I just don’t like them cooked in any way – so I’m very excited about the emergence of more and more ‘adventurous’ non-egg tasting dishes appearing on brunch menus of late and have decided that 2013 is going to be the year of the brunch for me.
Anyway, back to The Modern Pantry, it’s located in St John’s Square in trendy Clerkenwell and is the brainchild of Anna Hansen. It's a warm space despite it being quite crisp in décor, with black wooden furniture and white, white walls adorned with various pieces of modern art. When I arrived just after 11am the place was already teeming with groups of friends and couples and had a fun yet laid back feel to it.
The brunch menu was filled with so many enticing dishes that Estelle and I were tempted to order from both the ‘Fruits, Grains & Seeds’ section as well as the ‘Cooked’ although given what we eventually ordered I’m glad we demonstrated some self-restraint (must be the advancing years).
Estelle chose the English muffin topped with two soft poached eggs, some tea smoked salmon and a yuzu flavoured mayonnaise. I tried some of the salmon, which was incredibly good, but refrained from the eggs, naturally. Estelle and Flora both proclaimed the overall dish to be fantastic though – an excellent brunch dish.
Mine was spectacular. A savoury waffle of spring onion, curry leaf, feta cheese and polenta that alone would have been a triumph. Topped as it was, with crispy, smoked, streaky bacon and an almost salsa-like concoction of chopped fresh tomatoes, avocado and spring onion it really was a triumph. The waffle had a slight heat to it from the curry leaf, which was offset beautifully by the feta and the subtle flavourings. Both Estelle and Flora were equally impressed and I will be trying to recreate this dish at home.
Flora’s breakfast arrived to a chorus of ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s’ from our table. Having selected the only sweet option, this dessert-looking plate was a very welcome addition to the table. Huge, fluffy pancakes stuffed with lemony ricotta and a compote of the most gloriously sweet berries – absolutely fantastic. This dish was truly a delight and as we all kept swapping plates this became our brunch pudding.
The portions were all rather large, which was good for us as it meant we were able to share and get a taste of everything but don’t be tempted to order everything if you do go – it will be difficult as every dish sounds and looks ridiculously appetising.
Service throughout brunch at The Modern Pantry was great – very friendly and relaxed. In short, perfectly in keeping for the morning after the night before. We paid around £25 each which I thought was reasonable given the pre-midday cocktails and the three plates of exceptional food – I will definitely return.
We completed our ‘sophisticated’ Saturday morning spending an hour at Kate Kanzier, a gem of a shop in Leather Lane, admiring and purchasing four pairs of shoes between us! We could certainly get used to this ‘ladies who brunch’ style of Saturday.
The only thing I have left remaining to say is a huge, belated and final Happy Birthday to Flora and Estelle – here’s to our next brunch date!
I am looking for recommendations for further brunch spots as this is a relatively new style of dining for me so all ideas welcome!