You know it’s always difficult to pre-judge a restaurant with a famous chef behind it. Mere is a new restaurant opened by Monica Galetti, a New Zealand born chef who is best known for her role as MasterChef judge and former Le Gavroche senior sous chef and has been trained by some of the best chefs in the business. In short there’s a lot of talent tucked away within Monica. The other half making up Mere is Monica’s husband, David. David Galetti was chief sommelier at Le Gavroche and so knows his wines in and out, as well as whipping front of house into shape and managing the restaurant. The perfect dynamic duo if you will.
Inside it’s looking sleek and modern, yet understated. From the outside it’s rather inconspicuous too – I walked past it twice. Perhaps it’s their way of keeping Mere a secret before the whole of London and the world descends on the couples new venture. If you want a real taste of what Mere has to offer then a booking with friends in the private dining room is a must. Secluded, a little romantic and with the added bonus of a TV monitor which feeds a live streaming from the kitchens – and yes you’ll probably get to watch Monica cooking live!
Dining from a four course tasting menu we started with what turned out to be my favourite dish from the evening – mushroom and Marmite. Beautiful home-made tortellini pasta with wild mushrooms and a silky, glossy Marmite butter. I’m not entirely sure I could detect the Marmite was present, but that didn’t matter – because its overall flavour was immensely satisfying and the pasta was perfectly cooked.
I really had no idea what to pre-expect from Monica’s new restaurant and the biggest surprise for me was the cooking. I think I was expecting it to be more playful, but instead it was very classic in its approach and I actually loved that on reflection. In a city of restaurants spending more time on presentation, Monica is focusing on flavour and precision. One dish testament to that was this steamed skrei cod with Jerusalem artichoke, monk’s beard and seaweed emulsion. Lots of flavour, lots of different textures and lovely freshness running through it all.
Rhubarb glazed squab breast came with a very crispy ras el hanout pastilla, smooth cauliflower puree, chard and a clear and rich jus drizzled over it all. Again no frills, just flavour and enjoyment. The good thing about the food not trying too hard is that when you’re dining in a group, you still have time to focus on conversation as much as the dishes – most likely centring both around the two.
If you know me well you’ll know my favourite part of any meal is dessert. All the stops were pulled out at Mere with a very pretty looking chocolate and peanut cremeux. Peanut praline to be precise. Light, rich and packed with flavour. It was served with a scoop of roasted cocoa nib ice cream. My only dislike was the popping candy, the stuff drives me crazy – and not the good kind.
We finished up on some lovely home-made chocolates (another of my favourite things) and sadly had to leave this master chef to continue creating magic in the kitchens – absent of us overlooking from the TV monitor. What I took away from Mere is that it’s one very grown up restaurant and with a menu which isn’t always following the trends across London. No magic sparkly dust, dry ice or trainer wearing chefs. Just good cooking in a sumptuous dining room. I look forward to returning and seeing just how this restaurant develops.
NB: I was invited to review and my meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.