Monica Galetti, Masterchef judge and former senior sous chef at the legendary Le Gavroche, has offered herself up for scrutiny with her first solo restaurant. Mere, pronounced Mary, is the French word for mother and the Samoan word for Galetti’s own mother Mary.
Kick things off on a deep-blue velvet chair in the elegant ground-floor bar where, à Le Gavroche, guests peruse the menu, perhaps over a glass of the richly rounded house Champagne that Galetti has produced with Duval Leroy.
The striking design continues downstairs where a double-height glass frontage removes any sense of eating in a basement and has transformed the site into a light-filled lunchtime rendezvous as well as an elegant setting for dinner.
But as expected, it’s the cooking that shines the most brightly, with Galetti’s Samoan and New Zealand heritage blended seamlessly with Gavroche-style haute cuisine for a contemporary take on high-end dining.
To start, a light ’nduja sauce highlights the meatiness of a springy curl of octopus, sticky from the plancha, while the accompanying caper and raisin jam is so good you’ll want to spread it over the mini bread loaves that arrive warm from the kitchen. Brined cabbage, pickled celeriac and a gribiche dressing are the perky contrasts to soft folds of ox tongue.
To follow, lobster is rescued from creamy sauce territory, simply poached and served with potato purée, cabbage and a bisque sauce in harmony of light sweetness, while 30-day aged sirloin comes with puffs of onion beignets, glazed cheek and a tarragon crème fraiche to keep all the richness in check.
Desserts have more conventional flavours but are no less good for it: chocolate and peanut cremeux with peanut praline, roasted cocoa nib ice cream, and a coconut cream pie filled with roasted banana and drizzled with rum caramel are the stuff of sweet dreams.
The letter ‘M’ appears everywhere in the restaurant, from the door handles of the loos to the lapel pins of the nattily attired waters. With Mere, Monica Galetti has stamped her own claim to one of London’s most famous restaurant addresses.