restaurant review: the modern pantry, london

After liking the look of this place for quite some time and never actually getting around to going, I ended up here for a business lunch last week. I have to say I was fairly disappointed.

I checked out the menu in the cab on the way; it looked inventive and interesting with a good range of lighter bites and more substantial meals. The menu when we arrived was a little different, but just as beautifully written.

The first thing that struck me as odd was the table. There were fluorescent pink stains and dark sticky marks on the white surface, which I wouldn’t usually expect from somewhere that doesn’t involve going to the bar to place a food order.

We went straight for mains, and I opted for the lamb chops. They were described as being served with beetroot and sour cherry, aubergine purée and cauliflower couscous. The flavour combination sounded so innovative that I just had to go with it.

I was disappointed by what arrived. The chops (some of the largest I’ve seen) were immensely fatty, not just a little around the edge, but quite far into the meat, to the point where my mouth felt oily. Perhaps that’s why the rest of the flavours disappointed me, but I didn’t feel the way that the different components were presented on the plate was conducive to an interesting dining experience either. The couscous I had expected to arrive as a relatively substantial side serving, but instead it was nestled under the lamb, and there was so little of it, it was difficult to find. A couple of small pieces of beetroot sat atop the lamb but I couldn’t detect any sour cherry flavour. The couscous seemed to be carelessly blended in with a dark smear of a rich brown sauce, which I’m guessing was the aubergine puree. It’s very unusual for me to leave food on my plate, but in this case I did.

Perhaps I chose badly. The pork belly I’d considered (and ironically dismissed as being too fatty an option) looked to be much better presented, and the pollock served with samphire which another colleague ordered looked beautiful, albeit, in my opinion, not £18 odd pounds worth of food, especially for such  an inexpensive fish.

The place was on my list to take some friends to, but having dipped my toe in the water, there’s  plenty of other places in London where I’d much rather splash out. I think I could have forgiven the presentation OR the fattiness, but the double whammy was just too much to consider giving this place another chance, especially given the relatively hefty price tag. If you’re in the area, and have approx £20 a head to spend on dinner, I suggest scraping a couple of extra pennies together and eating at the Eagle instead.


photo credit: Edited to crop