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Mele e Pere: Italian Fare On Brewer Street

Apple and pear

That’s the meaning of “Mele E Pere”. The designer took it quite literally and mounted a polychromatic window display of apples and pears – some metallic ones, some Murano glass ones – on the street level of this mysterious Italian eatery on Brewer Street. In fact, the entrance was pretty much a camouflage. Judging from the moss green facade, the bright neon signs, the vintage sofas and the vast number of chandeliers, one would certainly assume this was a furniture shop. No staff in sight. Just a menu neatly but unnoticeably placed on an old-school pressing machine of sort. The restaurant itself was situated in a vast, den-like basement, which I accessed via a staircase adorned with vintage handcrafted tiles. The creamy wall paint and the mix-and-match wooden tables glowed in spotlights. Trattoria-style. Cozy. Charming. With a smart bar.

 

Cozy Italian to match

The chef Andrea Mantovani worked at Harry’s Bar and was head chef at Anthony Demetre’s Michelin-starred Arbutus and Wild Honey. At Mele e Pere, the menu was northern Italian and not overfussed. The starters were priced between £7.50- £11.50; the pasta could be served starter-sized (£7.50- £9.95) or as a main (£10.95- £15.95); the main came with a free side of your choice (£16- £19.95); an additional side cost £3.50; and the desserts were around £5.50 each. Warm Salad of Razor Clams (£9.50) was this coarsely sliced, springy razor clams tossed in olive oil, parsley, tomato and a medley of finely diced celery and carrot. The vibrant acidity from tomato and the squeezing of lemon made the dish very pleasant to eat, while the sweet cannolini bean mush balanced it off well. That aside, I detected some minuscule slices of octopus and, as the menu only read “razor clams”, I wondered if they were intentional. Artichoke Risotto with Lamb’s Neck (£9.95) lacked a cheesy shine, while the taste was very intense bordering on being too salty for my liking. This had much to do with the infusion of pungent artichoke cubes and rich lamb reduction. There wasn’t so much flavour from wild mint as billed (which could have elevated the dish). The piece of lamb’s neck, however, was expertly done. Moreish and very tender. I wouldn’t mind eating just a full portion of this. Roast Cod and Fennel (£17.95) was underwhelming. The cod was nicely seasoned and correctly roasted. It would look so much prettier if served with the “roasted” side up. The garnish of a blanched tomato and grilled fennel chunks did not much and I couldn’t help thinking I was eating disparate parts rather than everything as an entity on a plate. My side of grilled vegetables (inclusive of the main course) was also so-so and could do with a finishing touch of extra virgin olive oil drizzle. Tiramisu (no picture and I also couldn’t recall the price) had a lovely coffee forte but could do with more sweetness.

My meal at Mele e Pere was reliable, but not exciting. In fairness, the place delivered what it promised to be – the “trattoria”. The FOH was attractive, attentive and sweet. The bar surely would be quite hip at night. The bill for a 4-course with water, juice and a glass of wine came to just £60.

GO FOR: Easy Italian. Charming space.
RATING: 3/5

(read about new rating here)

MELE E PERE

46 Brewer Street
London
W1F 9TF

Tel. 020 7096 2096
Mele e Pere on Urbanspoon

15 Comments

  1. Frank

    Profoundly disagree with the review above. Speaking as a an Italian cook, this is the best meal I had in a very long time.
    Everything we had was perfectly executed.
    Razor clams and octopus salad, as well as the fish stew were expertly nurtured to produce well balanced, flavorsome portions.
    If anything, all of our table found the kitchen to be quite conservative with the salt. Maybe you confused the umami and slight acidity of the risotto with saltiness.
    Anyone can do a old boring sweet tiramisu. By controlling the sugar, you get access to all the other wonderful flavours in there. Just think at the high quality cocoa and chocolate for a second, would you want those notes to be covered by a generalized sweetness?
    One last comment… the tripe…. If you haven’t tried it, that dish alone it’s worth the trip.
    Keep it up guys, this is already our favourite Italian in town.

    • theskinnybib

      Hi Frank,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with me and it seemed Mele e Pere made a better impression during your visit.

      re Razor Clam Salad. If the menu is read “Razor Clam Salad”, I am likely to expect a salad of razor clams. There were about 3 slivers of octopus which did not do harm to the dish but they looked accidental. The dish was very good, nonetheless.

      re Risotto. I know what the umami flavour is. My dish was far too rich and if compared to the same dish in other blogs did not seem to have any cheese and barely contained mint.

      re Tiramisu. My tiramisu tasted of chocolate, mascarpone, coffee and sponge. It’s pretty much like eating coffee with cream.

      That said, I’m sure the kitchen will iron out these creases in no time. After all, Mele e Pere is a decent restaurant and I wouldn’t mind returning.

      Regards,
      SB

  2. Jason

    I’ve got to say I agree with the comment above. I’m delighted that Mele has opened up. I had orecchiette with broccoli, frigitelli and clams which were packed full of flavour, then the Fiorentina which was pretty much the best steak I’ve ever had in London and then Valrhona chocolate and roast chestnut ice cream which were quite simply unbelievably good.

    • theskinnybib

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you for sharing your comment and it’s good to hear that you have a very good meal at Mele e Pere. I can’t say much as I did not try any of the dishes that you listed. My meal at Mele e Pere was far from bad. It was just decent.

      Regards,
      SB

  3. This smells like PR to me, just saying…
    I wonder why it is so hard to find exceptional and affordable Italians in London (and if there is one, like Zucca, you can never get a table…) considering Italian is the best cuisine in the world. Never understood this. (same applies to Thai – 2nd best cuisine in the world and so few good Thais in London, what is going wrong?)

    • Robert

      Mele E Pere has a lunch menu that is very reasonable. I went yesterday and had a coke with a sizeable pasta dish and service for £11.70. That is cheaper than some of the rubbish chains on brewer street (no mention of Nando’s).
      Also the steak is fantastic and has been overlooked as many people would not traditionally order steak in an Italian. Try it for yourself and you will see it is by no means PR. It is up there with the best and at £24.00 per person is a lot cheaper then the competition.

      • theskinnybib

        Thank you for sharing with me, Robert. If “by no means PR”, you are very passionate about Mele e Pere and have been so many times (judging from your comment on Urbanspoon, Picky Glutton blog, and here that you suggested you went “yesterday”). You seem to study the menu so well, too. The detail about specific pricing is what one often forgets. That said, like I say previously, Mele e Pere is a decent place to eat and I didn’t mind a return if my friends make a request, though I wouldn’t rush back.

        Regards,

  4. Robert

    Yes I did go yesterday hence I remember the price and have a card reciept in my wallet. Also remembering the price of a steak is not so impressive. I find your comment about being able to cook both rather strange for a food blogger. The idea of eating out is of course different to cooking at home. Unsure what your point was there.
    Writing my comments on a new restuarant on blogs , isn’t that what the comment field is for?

    • theskinnybib

      Hi Robert,

      I can see your point. I rarely keep my receipt and have amnesia in pricing hence my apology for assuming everybody else is the same. It was certain phrases of yours (i.e. “competition”) that led me to assume your association with the restaurant apart from being a diner. I agree there are many substandard chains on Brewer Street.

      re cooking. A lot of bloggers cook and write about it on their blogs along with restaurant visits. I mention it in my comment because (1) commenting/replying is personal, as opposed to writing/publishing a post and (2) the message is directed towards Ute who is my regular commenter so she knows what I am implying.

      re eating out. Of course the idea of eating out is different from cooking at home. That’s why I include the design and the scene as well as the food. However, food is, to me, the essential part of eating and if I can make something as good at home I wouldn’t be bothered seeking the same food at restaurants. This is me speaking generally and with no intention of associating any restaurant with this particular string of comment. Also it is a personal view; I understand if people will think otherwise.

      Thank you again for commenting and have a good evening.

      Regards,
      SB

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