This month, chef patron Anna Hansen and head chef Rob McLeary have opened the Modern Pantry Finsbury Square. This is the second venture from Anna Hansen MBE who opened The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell in 2008.
Housed in the impressive art deco Alphabeta Building on the corner of Finsbury Square, the restaurant features bespoke, handcrafted pieces inspired by Anna’s Danish roots.
New York-based hospitality design company AvroKo took inspiration from Anna’s familial roots in Denmark when considering the interiors. Anna spent many hours cooking with her Danish grandmother in her family kitchen, and this motivated the designers to explore the Danish Modern style.
The restaurant is a whitewashed space with high-ceilings and understated ornamentation. The materials and furniture serve as a further nod to the Danish Modern movement, using woods such as oak, teak and walnut, as well as graphic tiles, caning, bent plywood, and hand blown glass.
Dark blue and off-white hues colour the restaurant, with strong influences derived from the porcelain Flora Danica set commissioned by the Danish Crown Prince as a tribute to the original Danish botanic catalogue.
The simplicity of this colour palate is pervasive throughout the restaurant as seen in dark blue back-painted glass, tiles, banquette leathers and graphics. For parties and large groups, there is a striking private dining room with a table seating up to 28 guests, separated from the main dining area by a tall, deep blue frame with moveable panels.
The design team also created design piece Flora Annica – cataloguing and framing a series of plants, which share a commonality between Anna's native New Zealand and her adopted home of England.
In further deference to the obsessive and exhaustive variety of the Flora Danica, no two of the 40 pendant light fixtures in the middle of the restaurant are the same. Each handblown glass shade was pushed out of the mould in different ways to create a family of shapes. The shades were designed by AvroKo and individually hand-blown by Jon Lewis, the founder of Orbic Glass – personally selected by one of Anna’s favourite interior designers Nicole Greenaway.
A unique 20-seater solid oak bar will serve Anna and Rob’s globally inspired tapas plates, including dishes such as chilled pea & lemongrass soup with Iranian lime cream, smoked mussel, avocado, seaweed & brown crab mayonnaise with a brioche bun, and Dhansak spiced rose veal mince omelette, with chopped herbs and crispy shallots. The bar will also serve a range of sherry-based cocktails and classic liveners.
Alongside the tapas bar, the restaurant’s a la carte menu will include dishes such as confit duck leg with anise marinated black fig, and squid ink battered Cornish cod.
Anna Hansen says: “The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell is in its seventh year now so developing The Modern Pantry Finsbury Square has been hugely exciting. I have been involved in every aspect, which has been great fun and although the space looks different to Clerkenwell, it will feel very similar - relaxed and friendly with lots of tasty food and great sherries, wines and cocktails. The tapas bar will be a really fun place to just drop in for a tipple and snack, or to stay all day and eat your way through the menu.”