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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Mele e Pere

Mele e Pere – a steak in Soho

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master


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Restaurant Reviews
- Mele e Pere

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Mele e Pere

Mele e Pere – a steak in Soho

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master


Mele e Pere

Mele e Pere This is a little cracker of a restaurant and I am almost reluctant to publicise it any further for fear that the prices will go up and the chances of me getting a table will go down!

This is an authentic northern Italian, casual dining restaurant smack in the middle of the very un-Italian Soho. Its ambiance, style, ethos, whatever you want to call it, works at this location. In fact I think it would work anywhere.

Mele e Pere is ranged over two floors with the main restaurant in the basement level. Its bar is impressive with copper cladding and a shelf of home-made vermouths enough to help launch any voyage of libation discovery. Vermouth here is a signature beverage and it would be a shame not to try one. You can try others on your return, for a return is almost guaranteed.

We sat at that bar for a while and ordered a bowl of olives to go along with citrus vermouth made in-house and Byrrh which wasn’t. That’s a classic vermouth in the traditional herby style of a wine-based apéritif made of red and fortified wines (mistelle), and quinine. That quinine might not sound appealing but it’s the key ingredient in tonic water. But back to the food! Our Ascolana olives were stuffed with spicy meat, breaded and deep fried. They look innocent but they pack a chilli punch and are addictive.

Mele e Pere The menu here is seasonal and ever-changing. There are plenty of regulars who will appreciate the new items throughout the year. Fresh is evidently important at Mele e Pere. I hadn’t realised at the time of my visit that they make bread, pasta, desserts and ice-creams in their own kitchen. That isn’t always a recommendation in other restaurants. The bread was outstanding here. Yes, it’s just a simple thing but it shows attention to detail. I am hoping the owners will open a bakery next.

We ordered several starters including that amazing bread and focaccia along with deep-fried squid rings with smoked aioli and parmesan. The squid was light and the mayo a delicious foil to the delicate flavour of the breading and the seafood. But the Parma ham and gnocchi fritti is a must-try here. The gnocchi fritti were in fact light puffs and perfect when paired with the savoury ham.

Fresh spaghetti with clams, garlic, chilli and courgettes was my guest’s main course. He ordered just a small portion, which was still substantial, and he had that delicious bread for mopping juices. This was a beautiful and light dish of a good amount of shellfish and that aforementioned home-made pasta. The strands were eggy yellow and rich. A green salad alongside was all that was needed.

On this evening the menu offered home-made sausage and courgette – another substantial plateful. The sausage was seasoned, grilled and glistening and the sort that wins prizes in butchery competitions. Yes, it was that good. The sausage was coiled and skewered, the courgette was split, grilled and garnished and the diner was salivating at every bite. Once again Mele e Pere showing that food need not be fussy to be impressive. It just has to be right.

Mele e Pere Wine at Mele e Pere is reasonably priced and can be ordered by the glass, carafe or bottle, and after a vermouth or two a small carafe might be in order. And there was still dessert to come. A couple of scoops of Amalfi Lemon sorbet was enough for the two of us. The attentive waiter had the presence of mind to lay two spoons. Tangy, light and full of citrus flavour. This was a perfect end to a hot night in Italy. Well, OK, London W1, but it was pretty near. Visit for a long, lingering lunch, or even try some pastries for breakfast.

Mele e Pere
46 Brewer Street
Soho
London
W1F 9TF

Phone: 020 7096 2096
Email: info@meleepere.co.uk

Visit Mele e Pere here


food and travel reviews

Mele e Pere – a steak in Soho

Mele e Pere Mele e Pere opened in the heart of Soho in February 2012, but that neighbourhood dates back centuries. In the Middle Ages, what is now Soho was known as St Giles Field, land belonging to the Convent of Abingdon, with its leper hospital. In 1536, the land was taken by Henry VIII as a royal park for the Palace of Whitehall.  In fact the name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century and is thought to come from a former hunting cry. The 1st Duke of Monmouth used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685.

The Earls of Leicester and Portland developed the land but Soho was never a great address. Immigrants settled in the area, including French Huguenots, but by the mid-19th century genteel folk had moved away and Soho took on another persona. When I was growing up in the 1960s Soho was the place to find iffy pleasures, and they were in full view. Doors with X in neon above and ladies of the night gracing street corners were the norm. But there were restaurants, and artists including writer Dylan Thomas and jazz musician George Melly frequented these streets in the 50s and 60s. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Henry Jekyll had his other self, Edward Hyde, living in Soho.

Modern Soho still has a bohemian character but most of the seamy side has disappeared. Restaurants and bars are popular with locals and tourists, but with quantity there is the danger of quality taking a back seat – although there are some gems here.

Mele e Pere is a consistent favourite. Its small dining area on the ground floor gives no sign of the characterful restaurant and bar below. The décor is eclectic with bookshelves holding soda syphons, and industrial wall lights which would look at home in a 1930s drawing office. The tables are wooden with tastefully mis-matched chairs. One has a sense that this carefully designed space has naturally evolved into its casual and quirky self and I trust the owners won’t think of changing a thing.

Mele e Pere Those owners wanted to create an authentic neighbourhood Trattoria and I believe they have succeeded. One can enjoy a celebrated home-made vermouth, some small plates, or a full feast. The space is flexible and it’s open from 11am till late so an ideal spot for tourists who find themselves craving lunch at 2.30 or dinner at 4.45. The menu is predominantly Italian with international flourishes but all dishes done well. There is a fresh and seasonal daily-changing bill of fare with British produce as well as Italian ingredients. Mele e Pere seem to make everything in house and the standard is high.

We enjoyed a glass of both red and white vermouth, also made on the premises.  Ascolana olives with spicy nduja is a must-try along with your drinks. Nduja is a spicy, soft and spreadable pork salami from Italy. The olives are sizable, flavourful and deep-fried, making them thoroughly addictive. A light starter is Crudo of tuna, Sicilian watermelon and almonds. This is cool and colourful and a great foil for the heat of the olives.

I enjoyed a dish of potato gnocchi with a buttery sauce and shavings of white truffle. Yes, truffles are decadent and luxurious but these white truffles are milder and less earthy than the more pungent black truffle. The flavour lingers as a pleasant memory.

For those looking for a more meaty option then MeleMele e Pere e Pere have a rib-eye which would do credit even to a dedicated steak house. This was a 28-day-aged Surrey Farm rib-eye with delicious glaze. All their meat is sourced from farms across England and is processed in Surrey, adhering to the highest standards of quality. The side dish of broccoli and chilli was a colourful garnish along with the traditional chips. When we travel to France we often order the classic steak frites, saying that we can’t do it like that here. Italy has the best reputation for food and we insist that nobody cooks like that in the UK. Here at Mele e Pere we can find the best of both culinary worlds.

The Italian wine list showcases independent and biodynamic producers. There are all the classic Italian and international grape varieties and many available by the glass or carafe; and it would be rude not to have a good red with that outstanding steak.

Tiramisù with espresso ice cream was the finale. The Tiramisù was traditional and as good as one finds anywhere but the ice cream was the star. Mele e Pere make their own and its flavour is striking. This isn’t coffee ice cream but most definitely espresso, and with an adult flavour.

Mele e Pere I was not surprised that the quality of food, and steak in particular, was so high. It’s not my first visit, after all. But that first excellent meal might have been a gastronomic fluke, an epicurean lucky shot. But no. Mele e Pere is solid, confident and predictably good.

Monday-Wednesday: Noon-11pm
Thursday-Saturday: Noon-Midnight
Sunday: Noon-10pm.

Mele e Pere
46 Brewer Street
Soho
London
W1F 9TF

Phone: 020 7096 2096

Email: info@meleepere.co.uk

Visit Mele e Pere here

food and travel reviews

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master

mele vermouth Vermouth has been ubiquitous in and on cocktail bars since mixed drinks became popular more than a century ago, but many of us have no idea what it actually is, apart from being the bottle that stands at the back collecting dust. Now it’s enjoying something of a revival since the days of the ubiquitous Gin and It in London in the 1950s. The ‘It’ in this case was sweet Italian vermouth.

The modern versions of vermouths were first produced in the mid- to late-18th century in Turin, Italy. Vermouth was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, being flavoured with botanicals more associated with the apothecary’s cabinet. In the late 19th century it became popular as the indispensable ingredient in many celebrated cocktails such as the classic Martini (gin and dry vermouth), the Manhattan (bourbon, rye, or whiskey, with sweet vermouth), and the Negroni (Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth).

There are two main types of vermouth, sweet and dry, and then the spin-off styles of extra-dry white, sweet bianco and rosso, and rosé. Vermouth is produced from a base of a light wine with the addition of infused alcohol flavoured with aromatic herbs, roots, fruits, barks and spices. The resulting combination of wine and alcohol is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style. This gives depth and richness to the final product.

A popular ingredient is wormwood, which has long been believed to sooth stomach disorders. The name "vermouth" is the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut which we English pronounce as wormwood. By the mid-17th century the drink was being enjoyed in England, where we adopted the name "vermouth", and so it remains.

Mele e Pere, one of my favourite restaurants in Soho, has a bespoke Vermouth bar. Yes, every bar in the capital will have a bottle or two of this fortified wine but here it’s the main beverage. Vermouthier-in-chief Ed Scothern, who is also the enthusiastic and animated General Manager, conducts regular Vermouth masterclasses which are both popular and fun. He discusses the history and composition of this drink but he also shows how you could make Vermouth yourself. In fact that’s just what you will be doing at the end of the evening!

mele vermouth Ed takes you through the blending process and a tasting of a wide variety of styles, and will ply you with your favourite vermouth-based cocktails or perhaps introduce you to some new ones. You will see how Mele e Pere use different vermouths in both classic and signature house cocktails. You will be supplied with an array of small bottles of the aromatised alcohol and glasses of sweetened white wine and be given the chance to design your own unique and hopefully delicious Vermouth.

 Tickets for each evening cost £25 and include some of Mele e Pere’s most popular sharing plates such as spicy Ascolana olives (to which I am addicted), deep fried squid with smoked aioli, and San Daniele ham – and, trust me, they will tempt you to return to sample the rest of the menu.

Join Mele e Pere for Vermouth Mondays. They offer 2 for 1 on all Vermouths when you order any share dish, pasta or main course every Monday from 5pm!

You can build your own Negronis and Martinis by choosing from perhaps London's biggest selection of Vermouths and Mele e Pere’s diverse range of Gins and Vodkas produced by some of the UK's most individual micro-distilleries.

To book a place at one of their masterclasses e-mail info@meleepere.co.uk or call 020 7096 2096.

Mele e Pere
46 Brewer Street
Soho
London W1F 9TF

Email: info@meleepere.co.uk

Read more about Mele e Pere here.
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