47-48 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JJ
- Recommended for:
- Foodies, Relaxation, Trendiness
Expert review of Modern Pantry
Anna Hansen isn’t a household name, but her fusion cooking is adored by London’s in-the-know foodies. I’ve only ever eaten in the ground-floor café section of this converted townhouse, but the quality of ingredients, the bold, never eccentric combinations of flavours and the cheerful, informed service shine whether you’re in the first-floor dining rooms or downstairs.
The imaginativeness of Hansen’s combinations of ingredients make her food pleasingly hard to sum up. Taking a few dishes at random from the all-day menu - a coconut, carrot and miso soup served with orange crème fraîche; roast Napoli sausages, blackbean anise purée, marinated feta, peach and chilli; orange and almond cake with poached sour cherry, sumac, grapefruit and apricot, and rosewater frozen mascarpone - the first thing that strikes you is the number of ingredients. Surely they’re not all going to work together? They will, often sensationally well. The menu is divided into ‘snacks and small plates’, ‘mains’, ‘sides’ and ‘desserts’, further encouraging you to jump around and experiment rather than construct a traditional starter-main-pudding meal . There are cute aperitif specials too: maybe a summery elderflower spritzer.
For somewhere serving such sophisticated, adventurous cooking, the chilled-out atmosphere comes as a lovely surprise. Locals flop down in the elegant, minimal interior for a drink or a lounge-around brunch, rather than approaching the food with reverent fork raised. In good weather the outdoor tables on St John's Square are extremely inviting.
Staff are well informed and enthusiastic about the food without being pushy. However they can be too laidback and leave you lingering too long come bill time.
Set back from a busy main road on quiet St John’s Square. This part of London, Clerkenwell, is perhaps the best bit of town for food: modern British food pioneer St John is just down the road, the Eagle (routinely noted as the first gastropub) isn’t much further in the opposite direction, Bistrot Bruno Loubet is on the other side of the square. Clerkenwell isn’t especially handy for major sights, though. It is an easy walk from here to the Barbican arts centre and you're reasonably close to the brilliant Museum of London , while Old Street (the beginning of the Hoxton/Shoreditch bars and nightlife) isn’t far to the east.
Not especially cheap (mains from the all-day menu cost between £15 and £20) but the quality makes a meal here well worth the money. Expect to pay just over £30 for three courses, with service but without wine. On weekdays, the two-course set lunch is a steal at £18.50. Otherwise, those on a tight budget should stick to the ‘snacks and small plates’ (roughly £4.50-£10 each).
More information on Modern Pantry:
- Price guide:
- Café, Deli, Restaurant
- Fusion, International, Modern
- 47-48 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JJ
- 020 7553 9210
- Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
- Opening times:
- Café Mon 8am-10pm; Tue-Fri 8am-11pm; Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 10am-10pm. Restaurant Tue-Fri noon-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm; Sat 6pm-10:30pm.
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Free tags / Keywords:
- Al fresco