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The food created by Anna Hansen, owner of The Modern Pantry, is incredible. New, fashionable and never heard of ingredients are combined with some of the country’s best local and seasonal ingredients make the most dynamic plates of food I have ever eaten.
For an anniversary dinner, we managed to get a midweek table at the new location in Finsbury Square right in the City, between Old St and Moorgate in the fine art deco, Alphabeta Building. The setting is modern, muted wooden curves, high ceilings and architectural lighting… It felt like a grand, yet friendly hotel restaurant. The whole staff is approachable, relaxed, and can easily explain the unfamiliar ingredients peppered across the menu.
I have eaten stunning brunches and lunches at the original Clerkenwell site and never once suffered the consequence of my gluten free demands – physical or emotional. The Finsbury Square location carried on this essential element of the experience for me, but amazingly improved on it. Our waiter was not only extremely good. He went beyond what I consider normal service. You see their approach is to let you choose your meal, then they make the substitutions and compromises to the dish. You aren’t expected to compromise. Our guy endured a grilling about the chia seed crackers that came with the potted rabbit, checking with the Pastry Chef who made them, having already checked with the Head Chef. Then he insisted on double-checking my squid starter, of his own accord, just in case.
On reading the menu, I am never sure quite what I am going to get, but I totally trust the designer of these dishes. And the inclusions of exotic and novel ingredients aren’t remotely gratuitous either. The chefs are so very talented at incorporating them in unexpected ways – a chocolate and amaranth cake, puffed wild rice with an Indian style omelette, or coriander seed ice cream – to pick the extreme ones. A bit like Anna Jones’ cooking though, each dish is so carefully balanced in flavours, acidity, texture and colour, I never want it to end.
But end it did. This time with chocolate and amaranth cake. The prettiest of desserts and the most wonderful, exciting and relaxing meal out for a while. I urge you to go.
// Apologies for the lack of photos, but during an intimate, anniversary dinner, I felt it appropriate not to whip out my phone for photos. Love is…