There’s not much better than a late weekend brunch with friends, right?
If you live in London the likelihood is you’ve been to or at least heard of ‘The Modern Pantry‘ in Clerkenwell – an acclaimed brunch hotspot with rave reviews – but, the question is, have you tried its sibling? Back in October, Anna Hansen, renowned for her innovative, fusion approach to food opened her second branch in the city. With high expectations and intrigued by Hansen’s new project and somewhat unlikely location, we put it to the test.
Housed in an imposing grade II listed, art-deco building on the corner of Finsbury Square, it’s impressive from the start. Once inside, the decor is bright and modern. Design wise it’s understated – there are designer furnishings throughout, crisp whitewashed walls and perfectly spaced walnut tables. It’s airy too, with sky high ceilings, grand arched windows and tons of natural light.
On first glance, the sleek design, business district location and smart service could make you believe it is aimed at the more formal clientele. Yes, it’s undoubtedly smart, but there is no fuss or formality. Service is attentive, but easy going and there is an almost unexpectedly relaxed atmosphere. The Modern Pantry isn’t just for brunch either, with a glorious 18 seat tapas bar and private dining room it’s an all day/night affair.
As for the food, the wide ranging menu takes on traditional breakfast with a modern, globally inspired twist. The Modern Pantry’s philosophy to ‘fuse everyday cooking with modern ingredients’ comes to life and the menu draws on a range of pretty wild ingredients and spices from around the world. Great emphasis is placed on sustainability and traceability too, with produce coming from local suppliers and the menu changing frequently according to the seasons.
It’s definitely not your ‘ordinary’ brunch and the menu does take a little while to decipher – we quite enjoyed debating exactly what each dish comprised of. Eventually, feeling both adventurous and indecisive, we ordered a selection – from the lighter dishes of fruits and grains to the ‘breakfast special’ (a combo breakfast deal), which seemed the best way to try a range of dishes at once. All were delicious and notably the flavours were as distinctive as the colours bold. Plates are light and healthy too which is always a bonus!
A highlight was the ‘Kashmiri masala beetroot, carrot, potato and spring onion hash, endive, poached egg, yuzu and moromi miso hollandaise, toasted seeds with tea smoked salmon’. A mouthful to order, but faultless – there are definitely no boundaries in Hansen’s kitchen. Even the fruit salad was special – and that’s saying something, the saffron syrup works wonders.
A little piece of advice is to keep hold of the menu as it will help you work out exactly what you ordered when it arrives! For dessert (yes, brunch dessert is now a thing) we ordered three doughnuts to share. My only complaint is that, although super tasty and with wholly original flavour combinations, these were teeny-tiny. A little self-indulgent? Maybe.
Drinks-wise there is something for everyone, from coffees and smoothies to cocktails aptly named ‘breakfast liveners’. Our brunch began with the obligatory order of coffees and swiftly moved onto some glasses of fizz. Take note – there is also a super tempting brunch offer of unlimited prosecco for £15 which quite a few tables were clearly enjoying! As half of our party had cycled we thought this wasn’t the most sensible option and decided to behave. There’s always next time…
Hansen proves again that she is the queen of a good brunch. Head here for a ‘grown up’ brunch with a twist.