Manuka stalwart Urban Pantry re-opened yesterday morning with a fresh new look and more importantly, a fresh new take on their food offer that rightfully sees an emphasis on the fresh, the light and what they call ‘clean eating’.
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the place closed for around 10 days to undergo a bit of a facelift, and the new look is now complete. In place of the black facade and dark wood are beautiful while framed windows and doors with a dainty European look.
The use of white as the overriding colour is beautifully executed and right on trend (be prepared for more ‘white’ fit-outs around town soon). Bentwood chairs and scalloped wall panels, diamond shaped marble mosaic table tops also cop the white treatment.
Beyond that, the outdoor dining area been beautifully integrated with the main dining room, its new deck making the transition from inside to out seamless.
But fit-out aside, the big change here is the food. At first glance the menu feels a lot more directional, a lot less ambiguous about what it is trying to do. Its first priority is rejection of heavier blokey stuff that has been in vogue of late, with the deep fryer mostly set aside in favour of light and delicate plates.
And rather than flit about with abandon trying to find some congruence between Asian, American and European flavours, chasing what is ‘in’ right now, this menu lands squarely in Southern Europe, mostly French but occasionally Italian in its offer. Okay, occasionally we see coconut and in one case chia, but this menu is more like a reworking of European bistro than anything else.
Breakfast and lunch feature on one menu, and dinner gets its own. Admittedly, a number of dishes feature on both menus, but dinner gets a few dedicated dishes and loses many of the café style offers more suited to daytime dining.
High on the list of ‘must try’ dishes and coming with an enthusiastic endorsement are: For lunch, the coconut poached chicken with compressed melon, mint, yoghurt and San Daniele prosciutto, washed down with one of their excellent house-made sodas; and for dinner, the sweet pea and prawn risotto with truffle potato aioli and beetroot crisps with a crisp bottle of white.
Often with a business that straddles breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, the theme can get a little muddled, and dinner can get a little lost in the process. After all, do you really want to do date night at the same place you grab your morning coffee?
In this case, the food on offer is well though out, plated beautifully and given enough specialness to warrant a full-blown dinner type of evening, and this particular reboot of an old favourite seems to have managed to have a clear direction, which is very welcome.
Urban Pantry is located at The Lawns,
Bougainville Street Manuka
Check out their website