Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Modern Pantry

Al fresco (albeit breezy) brunch in Clerkenwell

Hence, best not take the jackets off.

Napoli sausages, smokey lentils, green beans and apple chutney

All for me alone and absolutely stonking!

Grade B Flattie- not bad for a restaurant!

I enjoyed my meal today but why is the service still diffident and unfriendly as ever. Candi Giacchetti, care to comment?

Food of a consistently refreshing nature but let down by the ever so cold service.

I know it may sound rather pathetic as to why I’ve been eating well and pretty much non stop of late. Well this is down to my newfound combined abstention from both smoking and alcohol, and an obligation to round off 2008 with more gluttony inspired restaurant visits.

Canadian born Kiwi Anna Hansen, the chef/proprietor of The Modern Pantry is certainly one of the most accomplished and hard working chefs in London. When I say hard working I mean that on the last two occasions I’ve been here (Sundays!) she’s been plugging away in the kitchen. Her creations are never conventional or textbook, they’ve always been inventive and invariably consist of an ‘see I told you so for it works!’ unorthodox mix of ingredients. Miso marinated onglet or cassava and coconut waffles are just two of many examples that Ms Hansen prolifically dish up and thankfully the creations I’ve tasted have been absolutely delicious and great.

The location of Clerkenwell appeals to me, in fact I wouldn’t mind
living here; as it’s perfectly quiet during the weekends, great flats, devoid of tourists and no damn shisha cafés. The ground floor dining room operates on a first come first served policy and its ambience is lively and nearly refectory like. The service is not entirely brilliant, the guys are smiley and efficient but the girls, I believe finishing school alumni given supervisory roles, err on the snooty and ignoramus side.

Dinner with George tonight.

George’s Seared King scallops, wasabi tobiko, Jerusalem artichoke and mascarpone risotto. He finished it so it must have been all right.

My Sugar cured prawn omelette, green chillies, spring onions, and smoked chilli sambal was brilliant and triumphant. I can now visualise this dish as Hansen’s signature equivalent to Fergus Henderson’s Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad.

George’s main course of Baked sea bass, roast sweet potato, fennel, apple & coriander salad, dried shrimp sambal and laksa sauce was pronounced A1. This dish was also a perfect and wonderful introduction to Malaysian cuisine.

My mains of pan-fried prosciutto wrapped pork loin, braised red cabbage, black pepper and horseradish sauce was, dare I say it one of the best pork dishes I’ve had this year. The ever so tender loin tasted as if it came from a happy porker and the accompanying sauce was luscious enough to be supped on its own.

George’s (this man is not of the pudding pie variety) rum & raisin ice cream and raspberry & lychee sorbet. After this course, he muttered about coming back here again and said it would be a great place to bring a date next time. George, bless him, is a neurotic bachelor who believes all women he meets are gold diggers. I’ve told him to become a monk instead.

My pudding of Pumpkin cheesecake, cranberries and walnuts was, let me wipe a tear or so, achingly gorgeous. It might not be photogenic but it was certainly out of this world. Like the pork, this dish is one of the highlights for me this year.

I intend to come back here as often as I can, the cooking possesses that certain magnetic draw which I’m more than happy to be attracted to. Anna Hansen, if you’re reading this, please let me take your photo the next time I’m here, if not then it’s not the end of the world. Thanks anyhow.

My previous encounter.

47-48 St John’s Square
London EC1V 4JJ

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