For a little sophistication on a Saturday morning, head to the design centre of the capital for pleasantly fussy dishes and an eclectic mix of cocktails at Clerkenwell’s The Modern Pantry. Run by Anna Hansen, who also released a cookbook from the café, the menu is at first a little overwhelming with lengthy and detailed descriptions, but steadfast fans will be happy it includes the Pantry’s signature dish, sugar cured New Caledonian prawn omelette with green chilli, spring onion, coriander and smoked chilli sambal.
But as a word of warning, make sure you’re hungry in advance, as portions are certainly not to be sneered at. As a place to take your time – which you will quite literally have to considering the serving sizes – the gorgeous renovated building is a former warehouse.
Covering three floors, the worn wooden floors are matched with lots of blue, grey and white with huge windows, while outside are about eight tables on the terrace on St John’s Square. To keep food envy at bay, go for the breakfast special which offers two courses and a drink for £18.50 (or add £5 more for bubbles). The special essentially has choices of lighter starter-type dishes of fruit or quinoa pudding, followed by heartier cooked options plus a fresh juice or smoothie for an injection of fresh fruit.
The pastries are chunky, buttery and gourmet and are enough to share, while the fruits, grains and seed dishes are an instagrammer’s dream with multitudes of colours and seeds. The main dishes use organic large free range eggs, with choices of streaky bacon, tea-smoked salmon and creamy yuzu hollandaise and chunky English muffins. The eggs benedict are perfectly presented, while the coconut and cassva waffles with lashings of fruit compote and Greek yoghurt is more than substantial and a welcoming veggie option. Other meat-free dishes are made up of halloumi, tomatoes and vegemite soldiers to accompany soft boiled eggs.
Going a little off-piste and stepping away from traditional brunch dishes are the small plates ranging from sashumi to sheep’s ricotta and red onion fritters and a smoked burtta dressed salad, which can also work as starters or as a shared tapas style brunch. If you have got room, there is even a dessert menu alongside ice-cream scoops – or enjoy a liquid desert such as the chilli espresso martini. It is never ending.