La Gelatiera x Mercante Summer Ice Cream Tasting Menu
So, you know that utterly deadly couple of days where everything was just simply too hot, there was no way to get to sleep at night, and basically if you stepped outside you were in danger of melting? Well, on Monday evening my friend Edward and I found the perfect way to escape it: by heading through Green Park in the direction of Mayfair to try Covent Garden’s La Gelatiera collaborative ice cream pop up at Mercante. The concept is simple; a three course meal, put together by the restaurant chef, each dish featuring special editions of La Gelatiera’s delicious ice cream and gelato. Just what you need if this weather continues!
While I waited for Ed to finish work, I enjoyed an Aperol Spriz people watching on the terrace, before heading inside where he ordered a Negroni. I don’t know what it is this year, I’m not normally into bitter aperitifs (except a good Garibaldi which is one of my favourite cocktails), but this year they seem to be perfectly hitting the spot before a summer’s evening meal. With some delicious homemade bread of course.
Not just because it cooled us down (though it was perfect for that too!) our favourite dish was the starter: panzanella salad, extra virgin olive oil ice cream, fresh garlic tomato juice and sherry vinegar. All of the flavours were light, bright, clear and simple, and the ice cream, which I know Ed for one was suspicious of, was just perfect, bringing the dish together. Outstanding, and one of the best things I’ve had this summer.
Paired with crisp glass of Italian white wine, chosen by our server to go with the food from their small but well crafted (exclusively Italian) wine list, next we had a red poll beef tartare, topped off with crispy bacon and served with a cured egg yolk emulsion, finished with a scoop of caramelized salsify and Applewood ice cream. God it was good. We were both talking about how we never order tartare because if it is done badly it can be terrible, but literally our only complaint was there was not enough of the ice cream served on top.
Finally, alongside some sweet, fortified dessert wine again we let the server choose for us (but was absolutely perfect – seriously, the service is flawless here) for dessert we had orange and almond cake, served with caramelized fennel seeds, mint and candied Sicilian orange ice cream. It was lovely, though it did not blow me away as much as the other two dishes; perhaps go for one of the special flavours they have exclusive to the ice cream cart at Mercante this summer instead (which you can also get to takeaway)? Wild Italian Cherry, Pear and Ricotta, and Bread and Nutella all sound perfect.
To finish off our meal (and to put off the moment when we had to step outside again to walk back across the park!) we were brought some of the house made grappa and limoncello to try (we were invited to review and they – rightly – thought we might enjoy it!) I loved the limoncello, nice to sip in an ice cold glass, and slightly bitter, as usually limoncello can be a bit cloying. The grappa is not for the faint of heart – lovely, but very strong. I’m surprised even after a few sips I made it home in one piece! You can find out more about the pop up and make a reservation here.