London is in dire need of good neighbourhood Italians. Unfortunately the newly opened Italian trattoria Mele e Pere in Soho is not going to change that.
My recent lunch at Mele e Pere was largely mediocre. I chose dishes from the lunch and pre-theatre menu, which with 12.50 for 2 courses is a real bargain. The a la carte menu is substantially more pricey with antipasti from Â£.50 to Â£9.50, paste from Â£7.50 to Â£10 and mains between Â£14 and Â£24.
What I wanted is simple Italian food. What I got was simple Italian food destroyed by the addition of random ingredients (at least that’s how it seemed) which did not fit.
The starter of Green Bean Salad with Aubergine and Ricotto Cheese was a very chaotic plate of food. The aubergine in tomato sauce (hidden under the rucola leaves) was actually nice and would have made a lovely dish just accompanied by some aromatic rucola. I don’t know who had the remarkably bad idea to dress the nicely cooked green beans and salad leaves in a rich and creamy mustard-containing dressing which overshadowed everything else. And the person who thought that this salad needed an unappetising blob of cottage cheese should be banned from the kitchen for good.
I love pasta and I am very unhappy if someone serves me an unpleasant pasta dish, like the Paccheri with Tomato and Ricotta. The paccheri could have been a bit less cooked for my taste, but I admit that I like pasta on the very al dente side. The main problem for me was the tomato sauce which was far too sweet. It might have worked better combined with some strong and salty parmesan cheese, as the ricotta was too mild and indistinct to counterbalance the overwhelming sweetness.
The bread basket (2.50) which came with olive oil and was perfectly acceptable and I also quite enjoyed the fried whitebait, a generous portion, crispy and nicely flavoured.
The service was friendly but very slow (thank god I had the day off and did not visit Mele e Pere on a work lunch break!) and we had to ask for some of the items several times. Even though the large dining room, the light wood furniture and the spartan design of the restaurant were pleasing, the fact that the restaurant is located in the basement feels, particularly when you know the sun is shining outside, a bit claustrophobic.
I don’t know what it is with London and Italian food. Is it that all good chefs are staying in Italy?
- Food: 4/10
- Service: 5/10
- Value for Money: 6/10 (for the lunch menu)
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Chances of Returning: 0%
- Verdict: below average and confused Italian food