My hot-take on brunch is that it allows us to live a carb-laden life under the guise of a special meal…weekly. Why not lean deep into our one true love (carbs) and go all out at a bakery. Not just for weekends, the every-day pastry seems ultra-European and makes me feel like I’m living the type of cosmopolitan life I always thought grown-ups lived. In order to fulfill this woman-of-the-world-but-also-down-to-earth-and-cool life that I’m trying to curate for myself, new bakeries and cafes are on my radar. The newest of the new? A fresh location of The Modern Pantry now open in West Van.
Kendall and Matthew Parslow run the show at The Modern Pantry, with Kendall developing the recipes for everything from sourdough to sticky buns, sandwiches to jarred sauces. She and her father (an acclaimed architect) even designed the shop itself. As a Californian who has flown the coop, I might be a little biased towards the mid-century Cali vibes of The Modern Pantry’s 1,800 sq-ft bright & airy establishment. Plus, they have two patios – which any Vancouverite can tell you is a major selling point. Full disclosure, I didn’t actually go to the new location, I tried their treats from the comfort of the second bedroom/office/storage space that I spend weekdays in.
The OG Modern Pantry is based in North Van and offers the kind of elevated bakery treats that are Instagram-friendly but also heavy on the delicious-factor and lean into seasonality with a focus on sourcing from local growers. Their new location is no different – but they have even more items on rotation. That means in addition to noshing down on a pecan sticky bun, you’re able to grab lunch, sit on the patio and look out at the water and pretend you’re responsibility-free (or is that just a thing I do?).
They’re coming in strong with a retail selection that includes local favourites like Salt Spring Sea Salt, BC Buzz Honey and Klippers Organics but the thing that truly entices me is that they also offer their own creations like rosemary black pepper crackers, spicy tomato jam and over the holidays only: miso sesame caramels and fennel toffee shortbread. Storefronts with small bites and local staples are abound in East Van and Kits but this is the first of its kind to hit West Van.
I tried the rosemary black pepper crackers and I have to say they are the exact type I love. I’m a Triscuit girl through and through, I love a cracker hearty enough to dip in something of substance (hummus! Spinach-artichoke!) so I’m not here for anything flimsy. These give me the texture I’m looking for, the heft to satisfy my snacking and a lingering heat from the black pepper which instantly makes me want more. The spicy tomato jam is the perfect counterpoint to the crackers (and even better when paired with an aged cheese), with a sweet-but-spicy deeply tomato flavour that tastes somewhere between summer bounty and good pizza.
And the Christmas offerings continue the trend. The miso sesame toffee a toasty elevated version of a classic confection and the shortbread were abundantly buttery and melt-in-your-mouth. Even though I’m not a fan of fennel in my sweets, I can attest that texture wise the shortbread fit the bill. My favourite was by far their homemade pop tart, which leans more hand pie than ubiquitous breakfast treat but was filled with a not-too-sweet jammy spread that made what is essentially a dessert feel like an appropriate choice for the morning.
With this new location, Kendall has come home to West Van – if you also call the area home, I would say that The Modern Pantry is a solid spot to grab that early morning pastry and of course, stock your home pantry with local Vancouver bites. So, make your New Year resolutions extra early. Be resolute in living a life that brings you joy and tasty treats. I know I am.