In a rare and unexpected deviation from my normal protocol, last night saw me (a) dining after work, and (b) ensuring someone other than the boss paid, which was (c) a friend who – shock horror – lives in Manchester.
Given that we normally head for Chinatown or a generic curry vendor when he's down South, I thought it was time to ring the changes. That, plus a possible issue with his expenses, meant that we had to find somewhere cost-effective.
Enter, stage left, Mele e Pere's amazing £18 3 course & a glass of prosecco offer. We're still in shock. Ever the cautious, sceptical Manc, my friend was keen to express his disbelief that such a thing was possible, particularly in “that London”. But dear reader, it was true. We had a witness, should you need him (although young, and resembling a wet-through shaved whippet, he seems trustworthy enough).
Scene set? Good, we'll begin.
Mele e Pere has a relatively cavernous basement dining area. Tables are well spaced, not too small, and chairs are comfy. At 7:15 on a Monday night I wasn't expecting much company, and we didn't get it, with the result that the atmosphere was a tad dull (though on a normal night, I'd expect the joint to be jumping). Service was cracking (no waterboarding).
1st course for me was a fantastic aubergine soup served at room temperature and laden with garlic. I could have eaten it twice. Main course was gnocchi. I think gnocchi is easy to get wrong and difficult to do well – M&P scored full marks for theirs. Finally, a defiantly home-made tiramisu ensured I was a very happy man.
At some point, the expense account had a bottle of Sangiovese added to it, which rounded things off nicely.
So that's it – astounding value for money, great food, and on a busier night I'm sure we'd have had no complaints about the atmosphere. I'll be back.