Slowly making my way through the list of restaurants to go to in London, I prepared myself for nothing less than sheer delight at The Modern Pantry.
With its classy convenience at the new location in Finsbury Square, Central London; it breaks my heart to declare it ever so slightly disappointing.
Perhaps it was simply the incorrect selection of dishes and my increasing level of expectation. Or was it the regret in not listening to my instinctual desires to set myself up at the impressive 18-seater solid oak tapas bar and delve into simple bite-size gastronomies and subtle cocktails?
Nevertheless, dabbling through the a la carte menu alongside a carafe of hearty red wine, I found only a few delights.
The oysters were fresh and true to the taste and the quality that one can assume from a restaurant of such high reputation.
However, the seared scallops with burnt shallot puree were bland. In hoping for the sultry taste of the ponzu butter, I could only taste the subtle crunch of the caramelised wild rice. It would have been the perfect accomplice if the scallops had melted sweetly in your mouth.
The globe artichoke with mozzarella, tarragon and truffle oil offered only the crunch of crostini and a dash of olive oil. I was hoping to pick off the artichoke leaves one by one, dip them moreishly into a buttery truffle oil and wrap up the tarragon tinted heart with mozzarella. This was just not so.
Craving the flavour blast of confit duck leg, I opted in for the healthier salad version. Expecting the marinated black fig, grilled endive and pumpkin to create a marriage between fresh sweetness and dark, salty meat; I was met with a flavourless mouthful.
Success in the main! The marinated onglet with celeriac and horseradish gratin quickly restored a little faith. It was tender, juicy and rich in flavour. The pumpkin seed chutney rendered the full flavoured beef cut an inch of sweet reprieve, while the gratin delicately soaked up the au jus.
With heightened taste buds, it was time for desert. And yet, in setting aside the cheeses and sherry to opt in for the selection of four chocolate truffles and salted caramel affogato, I was left with a mediocre sweet ending.
Perhaps another visit with a hand picking of alternative dishes will redeem Time Out's favoured restaurant to me. Although disappointing, I will say that the care and service with which every plate was presented is testament to a candor of pride you cannot dismiss. I only wish the same perfection was delivered in consistent delivery of taste.
The Modern Pantry
Website or Tel: 020 3696 6565
Hours: Dining Room: Monday - Breakfast 7.30 - 11.30 | Lunch 12 - 4 | Dinner 6 – 10, Tuesday - Friday: Breakfast 7.30 - 11.30 | Lunch 12 - 4 | Dinner 6 – 10.30, Saturday: Brunch 9 - 4 | Dinner 6 – 10.30, Sunday: Brunch 9 - 4
Tapas Bar: Monday: 12 – 10, Tuesday - Saturday: 12 until late, Sunday: 12 - 4
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