Eat & Drink
Originally published on Wednesday, 23rd March 2011
Modern Pantry at Meza
Anna Hansen’s globally-infused hot spot pops into town for a month
100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN - 020 7314 4002
The Modern Pantry at Meza is open now until April 16, Tues-Sat, 5:30-11pm
Our only problem with Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry is the unfortunate reality that, whilst we regularly pass through Clerkenwell, it’s rarely a destination in itself (the same issue we have with the original St. John in fact). Hence why news of Anna’s month long pop-up in the middle of Soho came with such joy. Its position within Meza (in the Floridita building on Wardour Street), however, was a little more confusing. But still: central is central. And our bellies certainly weren’t complaining.
A main central space, organically divided into chambers by semi-opaque drapes leaves an airy, buzzy, informal atmosphere that it is a breeze to settle into and provides all manner of soft nooks to hide in if you’re after something cosier. As with most pop-ups, the crowd is pleasantly mixed, the staff bustling, and there’s a vague edge of celebration as they work out the last little niggles that come with a temporary launch. The 44-person private dining area towards the rear would also make a fab spot if you have an event coming up in the next few weeks…
All the bold fusion favourites are here: cassava chips, krupuk-crusted soft shell crab, wattle seed roast butternut squash, and be sure to save space for the desserts. The truffles are frankly orgasmic (the salted tamarind caramel in fact started a small struggle at our table) and the cinder toffee affogato (with espresso from Caravan) was at once sweet and bitter-rich. On the drinks front, our Tamarillo Sour was innocuous enough (note to self: when a waiter describes a cocktail as ‘strange’, maybe listen to him) and the wines, all paired to specific dishes, were spot-on as expected.
Gratefully gone is the brash, bold, ‘90s-edged black-and-red combo that defined the old Meza. Instead the scene is now infinitely brighter and more convivial: all sleek, simple Fritz Hansen furnishings and billowing peach curtains (which, whilst they were meant to recall the bronze bits in the Clerkenwell original, to be honest had us yearning more for a poolside banquet in Marrakech), as perfect for a romantic twosome as a table of ten. Also take note of the wonky cutlery, which we were very much enjoying.
Sadly only open for dinner, there’s alas no breakfast/brunch offering here at the Meza pop-up. On the one hand, this is a shame as a long lunchtime tipple-and-nibble is the main reason we make it to the original Clerkenwell restaurant. On the other, it’s a pleasure to experience Anna Hansen’s world-spiced offerings outside of our usual comfort zone – especially as it turns out she delivers a charmer of a globally-spiced dinner too. We just wish it was here a little more permanently. Well, maybe next year…