You would be forgiven for walking straight past mele e pere whilst out and about in Soho scouting for a top notch watering hole and eaterie. Rest assured you’d be missing out, as beneath the elegantly simplistic upstairs bar facing onto Brewer Street, extends a spacious and welcoming basement, where the serious business of rustic Italian trattoria dining at its finest takes place. We sat upstairs in the goldfish bowl bar before dinner, sipping gin Martinis, absorbing the laid back vibe. Staff genially busied about the floor, a couple next to us shortly taking delivery of a profiterole dessert I was so impressed by that I rudely asked its recipient diners if I could snap the beast. They kindly obliged and in fact joined in the fun. Take a look at the beauteous objects and you’ll perhaps understand how such temptation took hold.
Mele e pere means apples and pears in Italian, or stairs in cockney rhyming slang, which is cute, as their extensive collection of blown glass apples and pears comprises the entire wall beside stairs you descend to get in amongst it in the basement, featuring a stunning copper topped bar stocking an assortment of vermouths blended by their team and bottled in beautifully ornate glassware. If you are so inclined you can join in the vermouth revival movement by attending monthly masterclasses hosted by head sommelier Ed Scothern, where you will learn how to blend different vermouths, and naturally, to drink them too. This is great value at only £15.00 which includes cicchetti (light bites such as olives, ham and squid).
The meal was a culinary delight from start to finish. Rather than choosing mains, we selected a number of starting plates to share, so as to graze gently and savour the experience. Seirass ricotta, fresh peas, purple sprouting broccoli and smoked bacon proved an excellent medley of flavours and textures, creamy mild Piedmonte ricotta blending beautifully with tangy, salty bacon, freshened with lightly blanched greens. Salad of grilled octopus and calamari was cooked to tender perfection, fruity olive oil providing a gorgeous warmth to softened potato, dressed with fresh wild garlic leaves, the aroma and flavours of which had me reminiscing of walks in Devon where the good stuff grew in clusters on the woodland floor. Hand chopped beef tartare, Italian leaves and quail’s egg was perhaps my favourite, with the light, tender quality of the beef, oozing yolks and sprigs of herbs really came together. It struck me that careful consideration has been given when creating this menu, as the combination of dishes worked so well and the balance of flavours overall was a total success. Wine wise, it took a little while and several samples to get it just right, but we certainly got there in the end, with a white from Trentino that displayed great minerals, chosen from their indigenous whites “hidden treasures” list and going by the glamorous name of Giuseppe Fanti. We signed off with a dessert of lemon custard, lychee ice cream and fresh marshmallow. In essence an Italian take on lemon meringue pie, sans pastry, this citrus bomb cloaked in a duvet of freshly toasted marshmallow was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. I did however turn a little green with envy when I saw the diner on the table behind us beam with glee as his T-Bone steak arrived, huge and darkly glistening in a cast iron skillet, so there we have it, as if it was even needed: an excuse to return and indulge once again.
46 Brewer Street, Soho, London W1F 9TF