Urban Pantry in Manuka went through some renovations late last year with a new look restaurant and menu. The outside patio that used to be covered by plastic blinds has been turned into an official deck attached to the eatery. With a wall knocked down, the space has really opened up.
I had made a booking but there was already a queue at the door for, I assumed, walk-ins. I joined the queue but got the attention of one of the young waiters stating that I had made a booking. He had to check about the table but mentioned it had been a busy day and I would probably have to wait. What? He came back a few minutes later and apologised but reiterated that I would have to join the queue. I was really not happy with that response but he did check with other staff and had a good-natured disposition about him. I couldn’t do anything else but wait. I did notice a table for 4 with a reserved sign on the deck and kept wondering if it was mine. When we finally got to the front of the queue, another waiter greeted us and I told him the same thing, that I had made a reservation. He immediately led me to the table outside on the deck with the reserved sign on it. So there are issues with knowledge of table bookings. We were in. The breakfast menu is limited and J pointed out that there were no simple bacon and eggs. No there was not. The new menu is more trendy and the word ‘frilly’ comes to mind – chia pudding, a fruit plate, a version of smashed avocado. The only classic comfort breakfasts were the eggs benedict or the ‘eggs your way’ but you had to include a side of toast to the order.
We started off with some drinks. I chose the Raspberry Rush ($8) with watermelon, lime sorbet and mint. A friend had the Mango Magic ($8) with mango nectar, pineapple, coconut cream and ice. Served in large tall glasses, these were refreshing yummy drinks.
Another friend ordered the Morning Fix ($8) of banana, berries, cinnamon, coconut yoghurt, chia seeds, muesli and almond milk. One of the waitresses mentioned this was a pretty filling drink and my friend told me it tasted like Sanitarium’s Up & Go.
I was eager to try the Chef’s Pan ($18) with haloumi, tomato, field mushrooms, avocado, baby spinach, poached egg and quinoa pangrattato. I was really in the mood for bacon so I added this as a side ($4). This dish is usually served with asparagus but they had run out of it that morning and asked if it could be swapped with avocado instead. Even better! This dish reminded me of a small buffet where I got pickings from each little section. The serving of bacon was very generous and fair value for $4 worth. I offered half to J as I knew I wouldn’t finish it all, but I did polish off the rest of the chef’s pan.
J ordered the Brioche French Toast ($16) with maple bacon, cinnamon mascarpone and toasted pecans. This tasted pretty good and that cinnamon mascarpone was so luscious.
My friend ordered the Urban Avocado ($18) with smashed avocado, a poached egg, feta, basil and toasted sunflower seeds.
Another friend ordered a simple brekky of artisanal toast ($8) with fried eggs ($3) on top. We all thought that was expensive for one piece of toast even though it was ‘artisanal’ and eggs.
The food was pleasant but the menu may not be for everyone. The toast and eggs dish was noticeably expensive for what it was. I’m disappointed that service is still hit and miss even after the revamp. It definitely needs to be worked on and improved to entice me to go back.
Urban Pantry on Bougainville Street, Manuka, is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch, and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner.
Value for money 6.5/10
FPJ score 18/30