The Italian restaurant Mele e Pere in Brewer Street, Soho, has been on my list of places to try out for a little while. When I read an enticing review of a restaurant in London, I’ve taken to making a note of it on my iPhone. Tonight was an ideal time to try Mele e Pere out for I was going to a talk at the National Portrait Gallery at 7.30 and I knew it would only be a short walk from meal to gallery.
Mele e pere – Italian for ‘apples and pears’. The name appealed because it sounded fun; a lack of formality that transfers to the eating. They call themselves a ‘trattoria’, which suggests a simple approach to cooking in an authentic Italian style. They use seasonal products with a daily changing menu. Their pasta has particularly been praised and it serves one of London’s biggest selection of vermouths if you fancy just popping in for a drink, which you could enjoy with a choice of their small ‘sharing plates’.
I was warmly welcomed when I arrived and asked if I wanted to sit upstairs or downstairs. I chose upstairs and took a table at the back, which gave me a view across the restaurant.
Tap water came in a bottle, which is always welcome, and I also ordered a glass of prosecco (£5.50). I chose food from the Pre-theatre menu which is £17.50 for 2 courses and £20 for 3 courses (available 5-7pm Mon-Fri; 12-7pm Sat and all day Sunday).
There were 4 starters to choose from, 4 mains, 2 desserts or cheese for the 3rd course. I chose ‘Salt Cod Carpaccio, Blood Orange & Dill’ to start.
It was a nice dish; not actually a blood orange and I would have liked a little more orange flavour in the dressing. But I enjoyed it; it’s the kind of dish I really like as a starter: fresh tasting, light (you don’t want to fill yourself up before the main event) and a fish carpaccio has a little element of luxury – it’s not something I make at home (even though it’s not difficult; just requires excellent and very fresh fish).
There were a couple of classic pasta dishes on the Mains plus ‘potato gnocchi mussels, cherry tomatoes & prawn bisque’. If you fancied meat, a ‘roast pork chop with castelluccio lentils & baby gem’. I was quite tempted to ‘pasta e fagioli, borlotti beans & rosemary’ but opted for ‘Pappardelle with Wild Mushrooms, Gran Padano’.
It really was fabulous. Very simple as so often the best Italian food is; a lovely selection of mushrooms in a buttery sauce. The pappardelle pasta was perfectly cooked.
I didn’t need a dessert – the portions of starter and main had been good – but I couldn’t resist with food this good. And I still had plenty of time to spare before setting off to the NPG. I decided to have ‘Tiramisu’ (the other dessert was ‘Sicilian cannolo, sweet ricotta & orange’. For cheese, Taleggio (one of my favourite Italian cheeses) was served with cranberry chutney & carasau bread.
It was an excellent Tiramisu; really good. I’m very, very fussy about Tiramisu as it’s so often badly done but this was truly Italian in its authenticity. I finished with an espresso (£2.10).
Mele e Pere was a great find. Good Italian food, friendly service and a good value early evening menu – definitely a place to return to!