What's the draw
From Simon Rogan's London outpost Roganic, James Knappett's counter-dining hideaway Kitchen Table and Jun Tanaka's The Ninth, the Marylebone/Fitzrovia borderlands have proven fertile ground for name chefs opening contemporary fine-dining restaurants in the capital. Monica Galetti's Mere on Charlotte Street (pronounced 'Mary' and named for her mother) fits neatly into this group: here, you'll find cutting-edge cooking in a picture-perfect, clean-lined dining room and a superb wine list courtesy of Galetti's husband and co-owner David Galetti.
What to drink
Unsurprisingly, David Galetti's pedigree in wine (having worked as head sommelier at Le Gavroche, where he and Monica met), it features heavily here, being paired to every dish on the tasting menu. There is a cocktail list, though – we loved the sharp slap of the Mere cocktail, which pairs crémant with a zesty, sweet and sharp homemade shrub. With the meal, we drank a Weathered Hands 2017 from Swartland, South Africa winemaker Dewaldt Heyns, with green olive notes on the nose, plenty of oak and a creamy note on the palate. And despite making his name at something of a living relic in Le Gavroche, Galetti ushers in something of the experimental alongside traditional wines on the list, like the Tomfoolery Young Blood 2017, a wild-fermented grenache from the Barossa Valley, with flavours of burnt caramel and blackcurrant jam.
What to eat
In common with her old accomplice Jun Tanaka's The Ninth a few doors down, Galetti's cooking showcases classical French technique with a contemporary edge. That adds up to a succinct, six-course tasting menu, with dishes like leeks and truffle, a cold salad where rich, creamy mature cheddar mingles with a slap of pickled apple and earthy sliced truffle, not dissimilar to Adam Handling's 'Mother'. Scallop comes with crisp guanciale ham, carrot and celery and a ragout of lentils, while delicate Cornish cod is curried and served with pickled celery and a foamy lovage sauce, and rose veal is pan-roasted, served with brown butter mash and sweetbreads so crisp and unctuous it's like biting into a slow-cooked pork belly. It's a great menu, and a standout restaurant in an area full of standout restaurants.
Tasting menu: £75; wine pairing: £54. 74 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QH; mere-restaurant.com