If you’ve been watching BBC’s MasterChef The Professionals you’ll have seen the stern face of Monica Galetti giving her verdict on some of the food the professional chefs have produced. Only in last nights episode did you see her fun side, when she stole a less than perfect donut from one of the contestants but more of her fun side later.
Coincidentally, earlier in the day I was taken to lunch by my French Lieutenant, Yaz and we went to Mere ( pronounced Mary), Galetti’s new restaurant opened with her wine expert husband, David. She and her husband both worked at Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jnr. so we were expecting great things. The food is described as ‘classical French with South Pacific influences’ (from her New zealand roots) and we weren’t disappointed. As you enter the restaurant you’re met by helpful staff and a bar decorated with plush blue velvet. We started with two great cocktails that were deceptively strong (I’m going back just for a drink).
Suitably ‘chilled out’ we were then shown downstairs to our table, I of course went in the newly installed lift – I was told they wanted to be ‘as inclusive as possible’ – refreshing from a top flight chef!
Once downstairs rather than being faced with a dark basement there was a flood of natural light from a floor to floor window and the exterior basement wall was cleverly covered in wood from wine cases. We had an inspection of the disabled toilet and it was stylish as well as fully equipped – top marks in fact.
The whole place was beautifully decorated and the food wasn’t bad either – worthy of a MasterChef. I started with Delica Pumpkin and Yaz had the Octopus, both excellent but on seeing the scallops with black curry we immediately wish we’d chosen them.
Then we both had Cornish Cod with Balsamic Salsify, Parsnip Puree, Smoked Bacon, Glazed Oxtail. This was delicious and hit a great high with the tasty and soft oxtail mixed in with the cod. Starters are £12-£19 and mains £23-£39 (for Lobster), expensive but not as outrageous as some I’ve visited. The finalé was dessert where both the Caramel Poached Pear and the Chocolate Mousse with Salted Toffee & Hokey Pokey Ice Cream (a reference to Monica’s fun side) were sublime.
The big surprise was the appearance of Monica herself at our table, not at all stern but sporting a broad smile. She spent a lot of time with us, was really chatty and even let us take her picture. She was keen to point out that inclusion was important in the design of the restaurant and she didn’t want to be an unapproachable chef. What a revelation a chef who’s friendly and wants access for all – how inclusive can you be! As you may have guessed by now, I’m a fan and we give Mere the maximum 3 BBS Ticks for accessibility and style.