Sunday roast: slow roast pork belly with green pepper relish

So. Y’all know that I don’t often post very negative reviews on my blog, oh except for the profoundly bad service here, but hey, they’ve closed down anyway so ahem, karma.  It’s not that I’m not being objective, I just normally don’t post negative things because quite plain and simply, it isn’t as much fun.

I would much rather verbally regurgitate (excuse the pun) experiences that have made me happy so that I can share a bit of that joy with everyone, and conjure up tastes that brought me to near orgasmic bliss, so that I can re-live the exquisiteness all over again. Wouldn’t you?

But then this happened. And now this post will be forever known as The One Where Catty Opened A Can Of Whoop-Ass.

Simply put? Modern Pantry: FAIL.

I’m going to try and keep this post as short as I can and maybe, just maybe, censor the emotional outbursts that may occur from time to time because honestly, Modern Pantry shat me that badly. Lord knows, I have already spewed much hate across Twitterverse while waiting for my meal.

The scene: there were 14 of us, and after a physically draining session of ice skating at Somerset House (ok, the physically draining was just for me, the noob, who has never once donned a pair of skates – roller or ice) we were booked in for a nice relaxing Sunday roast lunch at the aforementioned Modern Pantry.

Really, we should have known there was something wrong when upon arrival, we were told that they were all out of roast beef. Que? A restaurant which boasts Sunday lunch, out of roast beef?? We considered hauling butt somewhere else but with a group of 14, that would have been a mammoth task on its own, and granted that everyone seemed happy to order pork instead (and we did check if they had enough pork to serve 14), we decided to stay.

Fatal Error.

scallop ceviche, clementine & soy dressing, chipotle chilli oil; roast celeriac, hijiki, caramelised onion & spinach tortilla, tomatillo salsa; Cornish crab rarebit

Anyway, most of us decided on the two-course lunch and ordered our starters. The starters took a stupidly long time, like what, 45 minutes? When they finally arrived, we chowed down our food without much recourse to judgement on taste and the after-thoughts were all fairly positive, but I have a feeling that this was due to the appeasing of the hungry beasts which were wielding acid laden claws in our bellies.

Starters done, we began to wait again.

“Time… goes by…. so slowly…..” ~ the waiting was beginning to feel like the torture of listening to Unchained Melody.

And we waited.

And waited some more.

And ordered some wine, bloody Mary’s and lychee bellini’s.

And asked the waiter where our food was.

At some point, the sun set and it was pitch black outside.

I was wiedling my fork like a weapon, the hunger-crazed woman that I am.

Finally, over one and a half hours later, the plates of pork came out.


Strangely, no one really dove right in. We all observed our plates, turned it this angle and that, trying to determine if there really was only one teeny tiny piece of pork on every single plate.

teeny tiny piece of pork

It seemed that that was it, one small slice per person. Had they rationed their remaining pork because there were 14 of us? Because honestly, the serving that came out was heavy on vegetables (with acres of silverbeet) but the pork was true Michelin star sized, and this my friends, was not a Michelin star restaurant.

Goddamn, I wouldn’t even give it a fallen star.

spiced roast carrots, potatoes, parsnip and acres of silver beet

Well, whatever, we were hungry. So everyone chowed down on the pork and one thing became blatantly obvious. This was no slow-cooked pork. The meat was not tender, it was not soft, it did not fall apart on touch. I mean, am I asking too much? If you cooked a leg of pork over 2-3 hours, the meat frucking falls of the frucking bone, doesn’t it?!

We had an inkling then that when we’d ordered, the kitchen had fast-cooked a small leg of pork and voila, this was what we were served.

Granted that tastes were spot on ~ the veg were great and the sauce was actually very tasty ~ we still felt like they’d completely ripped us off. And upon offer of a dessert menu, I think I said (to no one in particular) “fucked if I’m gonna spend any more money here…”

But guys, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

We thought asking for our bill would be the end of all pain. But good golly, lookie here, they charged us all for the two-course lunch when actually, some of us only had one.  Agony.

Eventually when the bill was sorted and service not paid, we stepped out of Modern Pantry a good two and a half hours after arriving, slightly fuller but none the happier.

So, whoop-ass. Don’t go to Modern Pantry.

The Modern Pantry
48 St John’s Square
London, EC1V 4JJ
0207 553 9210

Modern Pantry on Urbanspoon

18 Thoughts on “modern pantry: Sunday roast with a side of PAIN

  1. Mark Stephens on December 6, 2009 at 8:46 pm said:

    Same experience … but with horrifically bad food.

    So hey ho, don’t go!

  2. Oh. My. Gawd. Catty – I nearly wet myself laughing. I absolutely love the way you write – it’s honest, it’s brutal, and it’s very YOU. No holding back and I think it’s very refreshing.

    SO. Beth, Hilda and I tried the stuff from The Modern Pantry yesterday at Taste Christmas, and I have to say it was all very yummy. The owner was in the kitchen, so maybe that’s why things weren’t running so smoothly back at home base? Not a good reason, I know, but you know what I mean?

    After yesterday, I was so looking forward to going to try the real deal out, but after your review… hmmmm… I think I’ll try it out anyway, bearing in mind that yes, I’ve been warned.

    PS: Is this the longest comment ever in the history of comments? =) x

  3. omg, this sounds terrible. I went with a friend soon after they opened and we were seriously underwhelmed by the food too. And to top things off, the waiter addressed us as “ladies”….when my friend was definitely of the opposite gender. Not cool. Sorry about your also not very cool meal. 🙁

  4. “I just normally don’t post negative things because quite plain and simply, it isn’t as much fun.”

    Oh, I think this post dispells that particular myth…

  5. I’m mortified because I recommended you go here for Sunday lunch 🙁 It irks me when places are that inconsistent. Makes a fool out of everyone! I’d definitely make your complaint known in writing… 1.5 hours waiting for small servings of okay food is just taking the piss.

  6. Mark: Hey ho indeed, and not going back 🙂

    Mowie: Yeh someone mentioned that the owner wasn’t in and also the pastry chef wasn’t in (not that we had dessert) but lack of senior management is no excuse? ANYHOOS, a good vent once in a while probably does better than botox hey 🙂 Yes, please still go if you’re planning to and lemme know how it goes!

    Su-Lin: are you serious? and your friend didn’t say anything? LOL – I mean, no it’s not funny but OMG! What is wrong with them???

    Chris: you’re right, writing one Whoop Ass post has awakened the monster within me…

    Charmaine: oh I don’t blame you AT ALL for recommending Modern Pantry! The food did taste good – it was just a comedy of errors with everything else which made the whole experience not so fabulous, but you’re not the only one who said it was good either!

  7. Scary. I was thinking of going here having walked passed it a couple of times. But I think I’ll give it a miss now.

  8. Yep, similar experience. Had been out walking with friends and we turned up on the chance they had a table. They did, but we had to wait for 15 minutes surrounded by empty tables before the waitress caught our eye again and sat us down.

    Got menus, waited 20 minutes, waitress comes over and tells us the kitchen is very busy so she won’t take our order for 10 minutes. We run after her down the restaurant and plead for some bread. She looks at us completely astonished (you want to eat?).

    Finally we order. Food arrives about an hour after we had sat down and it is all cold. If I hadn’t been so very, very hungry I’d have sent it back, but it was eat that or turn on my companions so I ate the tepid fry up. That’s right: over an hour for some cold bacon, poached eggs and toast. Would not recommend it.

  9. Don’t you hold back, now… 😉

    Seriously, restaurants as inconsistent as this make me cross. It’s just not good enough, especially when they charge the prices they do.

    Just say NO, people

  10. Mr Noodles: The thing I have to say is that this place came recommended by a couple of foodies, so someone has enjoyed themselves there. So if you still plan on going, do go, and hopefully you won’t have the same awful time that we did!

    ginandcrumpets: oh gosh that sounds awful! Our food tasted ok (albeit small and suspiciously not “slow cooked”) – it was just the horrendously long wait time and very sub-standard service.

    aforkful: exactly like what Charmaine said above – inconsistency is the worst because you tell someone to go and they have a terrible time.. *sigh*

    NOTE: I’ve had a number of responses on twitter as well – many echoing my thoughts on Modern Pantry, but some saying that MP have actually provided the best meals they’ve ever had. So it seems to be hit and miss. Keen to hear other feedback, not just negative but good times as well.

  11. They actually stopped us as we were leaving to tell us that we were short on the bill, a total of £40. We were like is that the amount of service? And when they replied yes we told them we weren’t paying the service and they were shocked but let us go.

    I must say though that maybe if the group was smaller and if we went at an earlier time it would have been better. I mean the place was packed when we got there so it can’t always be that bad.

    Having said that I would never go back!

  12. Are you serious?? That is just rude. And as for the big group – we had a reservation so it wasn’t a surprise to them that we were there.

    NOTE: Modern Pantry apology –

    Thanks for making time to chat to me. Once again, please accept my apologies for the service your party received yesterday (if you get the chance, please extend my apologies to your friends). I will discuss this with my team and we will continue to work on the speed and consistency of service at The Modern Pantry. The comments and feedback in response to your blog have been disappointing, but helpful. I will take them on board and turn them into something positive.

    I look forward to meeting you next time you are in.

  13. Ok, so I feel a bit mean writing this after the apology, but have to tell the tale of our porridge with muscovado sugar at the MP. My boyfriend asked for a bit more of the sugar for his porridge, and the waiter handed him a plate with a few of those little tubes of normal sugar laid out on it. Quite amusing at the time. At least he didn’t have to wait an hour for it.

  14. Been to MD twice now, and both times I have to admin have been good. There were a few dishes that weren’t up to scratch (green tea scones with kumquat marmalade sounded good but didn’t deliver, and for dinner cavolo nero with an assortment of dumplings plus a samosa was too many different flavours) but we had this amazing miso marinated steak and the fried sea bass was good too. We also had some fab desserts. You should perhaps give it another go in a smaller group.

  15. Greedy Diva: Haha well if you did have to wait an hour for that then that would’ve been the fail of all fails. Lucky!

    Dainee: Like I mentioned above, a few people have said MP has provided one of their better meals, but I guess just not for me! I don’t blame the size of our group at all because we had a reservation so they knew we were coming. It’s no excuse really.

  16. Greg on April 2, 2010 at 7:09 am said:

    Wish I’d done a bit more research before eating at MP last night.
    Uncomfortable seats; wobbly table (in the upstairs restaurant); slack staff. Starter okay; entree (Onglet steak) inedibly tough (my dog enjoyed it later). Didn’t bother with pudding, just wanted to go home.
    Worst of all, my guest is partially sighted and simply couldn’t read the menu because the print was so tiny and the restaurant so dark. The staff were absolutely useless in the face of this problem. The waiter sort of smirked gormlessly and fetched an extra tea-light. BFD. We suggested a torch. They went and looked for one. Finally they turned the house-lights up for an embarrassing few minutes so that my friend could read the menu. It was so crass.
    Now that Bistro Bruno Loubet has opened across the square, this place needs to pull its socks up. I so wish we’d gone to Loubet. I certainly won’t ever return to MP.

    • Really??!!! That sounds God-awful!! I honestly would never recommend anyone go there and will never set foot in that establishment again. I’m sorry you had such a horrific experience also 🙁

  17. michelle on July 31, 2011 at 8:00 pm said:

    Hi, seems they really haven’t done as they said and turned your comments into something positive. Just ate at MP today and could not have been treated more poorly by the staff. The food did seem nice but when we said that our fritters seemed burnt we were first met with silence, rolling eyes and a plate grabbed off our table accompanied by a shaking head. Left us feeling pretty taken aback. Then the waiter ignored us so we had no idea if we were getting a replacement till he eventually came over and said we are doing them again but they were not burnt. Well we did taste them and we thought they tasted burnt! Even if this was just our opinion surely it valuable and to be respected. We were then made to feel very uncomfortable as we could see staff talking about us and looking over. We couldn’t finish our brunch as we were so upset and angry but the half full plates were cleared without comment and we asked for the bill even thought we had originally planned to have coffee and dessert. When we noted how rude the service was the half hearted suggestion was leave off the service charge! We left £40 poorer and still hungry!

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