I had been meaning to try out Mere for a while, pretty much in fact since Monica Galetti opened it after leaving her previous post of many years at Le Gavroche.
She’s a formidable lady who seems a lovely person as well as a talented chef and I had been keen to try her food because of her south pacific roots as well.
A London visit by my kiwi friend Jo seemed the perfect occasion for a visit to Mere.
The restaurant is located in Charlotte Street on the former site of, I am pretty sure, exotic restaurant Archipelago which I used to love. Gone however is the mock south pacific interior and décor, dimly lit bamboo clad dining rooms and dens, in comes a modern dining room where modern furniture goes hand in hand with Samoan wall art.
The bar is on the ground floor and the dining room is below, yet it still feels bright and spacious thanks to a sky light that floods the space with natural light even in the evening hours (at least in the summer when we visited).
We started our evening with a refreshing cocktail and then made our way downstairs to enjoy the food.
Our waiter expertly recommended pairing wines for Jo (I did not drink more as I was riding my bike), and we ordered. Jo picked a starter of cappelletti with mushroom broth which she loved, the broth really delicate background to the satisfying pasta.
I had a fantastic soft shell crab, delicately battered and fried and served on a striking black garlic puree base with fresh pickled tomatoes, it was truly delicious.
I opted for the vegetarian choice as main, a really beautifully tasting chickpeas and aubergine dish, which I thought might have worked better as a starter, as much as I enjoyed the slightly middle eastern inspired spicing, it was a little out of tune with the sophistication offered by the other dishes we tried.
Jo picked the lamb main and thoroughly enjoyed it
We amazingly still had some room for dessert, and what a choice we had ! I went for a chocolate based one, which was also made using a very kiwi ingredient (L&P drink) and shaved with samoan chocolate. It looked beautiful and was rich, intense but not overly sweet or heavy.
Jo had a baked Alaska which she’d never tried before, another beauty – the decadent egg based shell hiding a tart, sharp lemon curd base. It was great having Jo present as she did make sense of some of the ingredients and flavours in the menu. Monica grew up in new Zealand so it felt quite ‘at home’ for Jo as well.
Mere was a great place to spend an evening catching up with a friend and enjoying some fine food.
Shame only we were not able to meet Monica – I have been told she usually greets guests in the dining room but during our visit she was busy filming the new Masterchef professionals series.
The service was great: knowledgeable and friendly and the turnaround was fast too.
On a side note..
Upon leaving (after paying our bills, of course), I asked for the contact of their PR rep as I had picked Mere as my entry for an italian restaurant guide. I called the contact, then email twice – with no reply whatsoever. Deadline looming, I emailed the restaurant manager asking if he could provide at least the logistic info (opening times etc).
Instead of replying or actually passing me the relevant details, he forwarded my email to the PR – she finally acknowledged and emailed me asking what info did I need (which was of course, clearly stated in my previous emails). I kindly listed again (it is not that much stuff!) and never heard back, deadline come and gone.
The entire process left a disappointing feeling. Shame that a restaurant can produce such great food, and go to great lenghts yet they are let down by their PR whom, I am sure, they pay handsomely.
Rant over. For one lazy PR, there are many that are very helpful and professional, thankfully.