Food & Drink

The British Invasion

A new bistro finds a recipe for success on Falls Road.

In February, 2014, when The Corner Pantry took over the spot formerly occupied by Bansky’s Cafe, we were worried. Through the years, several cafes have not been able to make a go of it in this space, and we certainly didn’t want to see another business falling on hard times. Thankfully, it seems, there’s no cause for concern. The Corner Pantry is the dream child of husband-and-wife team Emily and Neill Howell. The British-born Neill is the former executive chef at Bond Street Social (and has a wealth of experience in the kitchens of New York, Los Angeles, and London), while Emily designed the light-filled contemporary space. It’s the perfect marriage of a casual setting with serious food.

Over breakfast, you’ll have trouble choosing from among a dizzying array of house-made baked goods, including scones (Neill uses his mother’s recipe), cheddar biscuits, and the best crumpets this side of the pond. Look for the clever interpretation of a “pop tart,” filled with a variety of rotating flavors. (Don’t miss the Nutella and roasted bananas ($3.50) version if it’s on hand.) To round out the morning menu, there’s a self-serve yogurt bar, with a choice of toppings ($10.99/pound), as well as a selection of egg sandwiches ($5.50-7) and porridge with walnuts and raisins ($3-4.50).

At lunchtime, the yogurt bar becomes a self-serve buffet reflecting the chef’s enthusiasm for the bold flavors of India, Thailand, and the Middle East. We had fun choosing between an ever-changing assortment of inspired salads and substantive fare such as an aromatic coconut cauliflower rice, a spicy noodle kimchi veggie salad, and tender lamb meatballs with buttermilk tahini ($10.99/pound). If you don’t want to do it yourself, have the kitchen make you a sarnie (a British word for sandwich). We settled on a house-made roast beef iteration slathered with horseradish cream, and piled high with English cheddar, caramelized onions, and arugula on ciabatta bread. (Two hands are required for consuming.) The house-made salt-and-vinegar chips were a nice touch, too. And if you want to really feel like you’re in the Isles? Go for the royal treatment and stop by for a spot of high tea—petit fours, finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and a pot of Harney & Sons tea ($13/person)—served every afternoon from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

The Corner Pantry, 6080 Falls Rd., 667-308-2331. Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Price: baked goods: $2-3.50; sandwiches: $8-14; yogurt bar and lunch buffet: $10.99/lb.