A life without cake simply doesn’t bear thinking about. It would be daytime without sunshine, rivers without water or cats without whiskers. Even the Vikings, barabarian warriors who believed in Valhallah enjoyed the odd slice of sugared confection between conquering whole countries via blood-thirsty battles
Officially cake is a term with a long history (the word is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse kaka) and denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey.
Sweet, delicious and appropriate at any point of the day: Breakfast cake, elevenses, a cheeky lunch, stealing the show during afternoon tea, at 3pm with a cup of tea, a post-work snack, for dinner, making an appearance at dessert (before or after cheese depending on your French-affiliation), crowning festive tables and of course for a late night supper.
I’ve heard stories whispered in dark rooms, of people that banish cake from their diet. The results aren’t pretty – we’re not just talking a case of hangry rearing it’s head. Rather luckily in London the choice of cake suppliers isn’t going to dwindle any time soon (and crucially aren’t to be confused with a slightly alternative vowel).
Recently the copious cupboards and kitchens of the Modern Pantry provided us with a much needed hit of our favourite meal. After months of calendar negotiations (the delay mostly my fault) lovely Ngaire and I recently met up to discuss her insanely exciting travel plans (and incidentally check out the reason Anna Hansen and her team have won such acclaim).
Presented with a misleadingly dainty tea tier we marvelled at the selection offered to tempt our tastebuds. No limp cucumber or plain egg sandwiches dare show their faces in this temple to modern flavour. Each mouthful was a moment of pure travel. Exotic delections such as a Lotus root crisp with piled with Persian spiced sweet potato & hijiku, and a quail egg, miso and wasabi cream cheese macadamia dukka open sandwich teased our studied sensibilities.
Rather dry smoked salmon club sandwiches with yuzu (possibly languishing from pre-assembly) disappointed us slightly after such stunning openers, only to be blown out of the water by the cheddar, caramelised onion and turmeric scones, filled with curry goat leaf curd.
This was one of the best savoury scones I’ve eaten in a long time. Light, flavoursome, cooked well and beautifully textured.
Palates cleansed with the lemongrass panna cotta served with coconut, we slowly sipped our bubbly before perusing the exclusive tea list. Opting for a our waitresses’ recommendation of the Darjeeling, we relaxed back into the next flavour exploration.
The sweet tier continued the tropical tradition: a green tea & tasted black sesame dacquiose (whisper light), an urfa chilli & liquorice chocolate mousse (slightly confusing but gorgeously textured – most definitely a marmite dessert) and a Darjeeling and pink peppercorn scone served with clotted cream, berry and liquorice jam rounded off the afternoon treat.
Did I happen to mention that unlike many restaurants, the gluten free version was practically identical to my tea-date’s gluten selection? Often we get fobbed off with fruit jellies and macarons, but when called the day before our booking the Modern Pantry chefs were only too happy to accommodate my dietary needs.
The flavours througout the tea are all playful, but not overwhelming in their unusual permutations – each item was a creative delight – much like their delicious brunches.
Happiness isn’t 5 servings of fruit and vege, but a recently empty mismatched tea cup and cake plate. I should trademark that.
The restaurant has a lovely buzz to it, epitomised by clean modern lines inside the fabulous building a few minutes walk from Farringdon Station. Furthermore, with our eyes much bigger than our tummies turned out to be, at £19.50 at the time of writing (£24.50 with bubbles) it really was great value.
(Edit: the prices have updated to £22.50 without bubbles on the 8th June 2015 – still cracking value)
Service was again really nice – friendly, funny, happy to answer any questions and not overbearing in anyway, they wierdly just popped over whenever we started to think about ordering something. I’m still fairly convinced (apart from a slight delay with milk) that telepathy is a hiring condition at Modern Pantry?