Modern Pantry, EC1V 4JJ

An excellent cafe, restaurant, and delicatessen in Clerkenwell, opened in late 2008.

This venture, which was started by one of the partners at the Providores & Tapa Room in Marylebone, overlooks the historic St John's Gate near Clerkenwell Green. Inside, the decor is sophisticated, modern, light, airy and attractive. The cafe downstairs seats 40 and is open every day. A delicatessen sells produce and dry goods in a back room. Upstairs is a larger dining area (60 covers), in two large rooms photo of the upper front dining room.

On Ewan's Friday lunchtime visit in February 2009, the dining rooms were only around half full, so there should be no trouble getting a table, though the cafe area was far more busy. Service is friendly and efficient.

The use of ingredients is every bit as interesting and inventive as at the Providores & Tapa Room, though without the same emphasis on south-east Asian influences. The cooking here is modern European, but no less enticing for all that. The menu, which is a variant on that served downstairs in the cafe, covers a range of options, including vegetarian photo of menu. The menu on our visit even included a kangaroo meat starter (more amusing given the chef proprietor hails from New Zealand).

Bread was offered before the meal came, a very tasty selection indeed. We both chose as our starter the pan-fried manouri (which is a type of cheese, somewhat similar in texture to feta), with roast golden beetroot, red onion and shaved fennel, toasted pinenuts, pomegranate molasses dressing, and a parmesan crisp on top (£7.20). The combined cheese flavours were balanced by leaves and roasted beetroot below, and was very satisfying. photo.

Ewan's main of celeriac, leek & porcini gratin, grilled spring onions, a deep fried egg, and sumac (£13.50), was beautifully executed photo. Gratin was suitably filling, and the egg was particularly nicely presented, looking for all the world like a scoop of icecream. My friend's pan-fried wild halibut, with carrot & miso puree, seaweed, and liquorice & sesame relish (£19), got a very positive reaction as well, particularly for the liquorice & sesame relish which perfectly offset the fish photo.

The dessert of poached rhubarb, goat's cheese custard brulee, with ginger & almond shortbread (£6.50), that my friend had, was also well commended, notably the striking taste of goat's custard photo. Ewan had the cheeseboard (£8.50), not excessively large, but well selected and with some lovely pickle and generous oatcakes photo.

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Last visited by itsbruce and friend, 3 March 2011.

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OS X co-ord: 531677 OS Y co-ord: 182178 (Latitude: 51.522667 Longitude: -0.101783)
Last edited 2013-07-20 16:31:43 (version 21; diff). List all versions.