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wine this would have upped the cost to around £48 and sparkling water and coffee or tea and service would have added more. There is a two course option choosing from marked dishes on the a la carte menu at £21.50.

The monkfish main

course at The Modern Pantry

While the lamb was beautifully tasty and tender and the broccoli cooked to perfection, one could not really taste the anchovy while the black olive salsa was a bit overpowering. To some extent the same kind of

pattern continued through to the desserts. Strawberry and pink peppercorn ice cream worked very well as a combination, while Nougatine tuile, apple compote, chipotle butterscotch and toasted oak ice cream was perhaps not quite so successful with the hot (spicy) chipotle perhaps being a little too much for the dish, but was served in little dabs on the plate so could be avoided. We chose wines by the glass to

Beef fore rib from the Bertha Grill

complement the dishes. The restaurant menu is quite good in this respect with specific wine recommendations alongside a number of the dishes on the menu. While we may have had some

criticisms of some of the dishes, it was a very pleasant eating experience overall. The upstairs dining rooms are minimalist as far as decor is concerned and have wood floors, which could perhaps make things noisy if there are exuberant dining groups sharing the space with you – but this was not too much of a problem when we visited. Cost: based on the dishes we chose

the food came to around £36 a head – but these were mostly at the upper end of the menu prices so one could perhaps get away with around £28 a head. With a couple of glasses of


The Modern Pantry is at 47-48 St. John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ. Restaurant opening hours are: Monday: 12pm - 3pm; Tuesday to Friday: 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10:30pm; Saturday: 11am – 4pm & 6pm – 10:30pm; Sunday: 11am – 4pm. The downstairs cafe section has slightly different hours: Monday: 8am – 11am & 12pm – 10pm; Tuesday to Friday: 8am – 11am & 12pm – 10.30pm; Saturday: 9am – 4pm & 6pm – 10.30pm; Sunday: 10am – 4pm & 6pm – 10pm, so serves breakfast as well. Indeed it is particularly popular for weekend brunches – so much so it is advisable to book. Call 020 7553 9210 for bookings or you may book online via the restaurant website . You may also view menus and further information about the restaurant there.


Barbican Searcys transformed to demure Gin Joint

in Joint summons up images of a Hogarthian drinking dive and den of depravity.

Indeed according to Brian Martin, manager of this latest relaunch of the normally rather staid Searcys restaurant in the Barbican Centre some of the new bar and restaurant’s inspiration did indeed come from some rather nefarious establishments which used to grace, if that’s the right word, the area in times past when the residents of Cripplegate

Without, just outside London’s city walls to the north, were perhaps a rather more deprived, and perhaps depraved, population than the Barbican residents of today. But aficionados of the old Searcys

need not worry too much. Despite a summer-long refurbishment the new restaurant looks remarkably like the old one – indeed the shape of the space does not lend itself to a great deal of change. The tables are well spaced, the chairs are comfortable. The old semicircular booths along one of the walls are still there. There’s no sign of spit or sawdust on the floor – indeed soft furnishings and carpeting serve to keep the noise down. The pleasant views over St Giles

church and the lakes are, of course, unchanged as are the big windows which make the ambience light and airy during daylight hours. In short those who liked Searcys as it was will probably be perfectly happy with its new persona, despite whatever the new name conjures up. And if they like gin as a tipple then that would be a real bonus as the bar listing includes over 30 different varieties of London Dry Gin (including refrigerated gin on tap), plus Plymouth Gin and, of course some very interesting gin based cocktail offerings – pricing largely dependent on which premium gin is selected. The menu has definitely changed

though, but again there is plenty there to satisfy most tastes, plus some unusual – and fairly low priced - main course offerings, alongside a number of dishes prepared on the

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