On a site that previously housed Grittz and Hadleys, successful Crouch End restaurant Mélange opened a second branch in February. What we now have is a stylish and well-run neighbourhood restaurant that’s rather helpfully open all day.
The large room is decorated in a contemporary urban style with exposed brickwork and some interesting specially commissioned artwork (love the Barnet themed mural at the back). There is bar with stalls if you just wanted to have cocktails and small plates. The menu offers a logical combination of French and Italian dishes and includes various deals according to the day of the week. A good value two or three course set meal (£11.95/£13.95) is available Monday to Thursday for lunch and dinner or until 6pm on Fridays. On Thursdays there is Steak Night: £35 for steak for two that includes a bottle of house wine. A kids’ menu is available with a few reasonably prices safe bets (eg £3.95 for spaghetti with home-made tomato sauce – a big hit with our daughter).
It’s a tempting menu. I’ve really enjoyed the goat’s cheese and onion tart starter followed by a light summery main course of sea bream with ratatouille. The crème caramel dessert was excellent: small and reassuringly wobbly – a luxurious end to the set menu with a pot of fresh mint tea. A recent family dinner on a buzzy Friday night featured Roquefort cheese and walnut salad, crab mayonnaise served in a Kilner jar with hearty toasted sourdough and a couple of excellent steaks – our rib eye and sirloin steaks were sensibly priced at £14.95 for 10oz (7oz fillet steak is £16.95). On this occasion my dessert was chocolate mousse that was too big to finish. They might want to include café gourmand on the menu – a popular option in France where you have a selection of two or three small desserts served with tea or coffee, an ideal way of rounding off a meal.
Other attractive features of Mélange are the friendly, helpful staff and the choice of music – jazz and blues that help make the atmosphere feel nicely grown up. The soft music also takes the edge off what might otherwise be a noisy, clattery room as there aren’t many soft furnishings. As a wine lover, I also really liked the dividing wall made up of wine crates, again helping to set an adult tone.
Weekday opening hours are from midday and it is open from 10am at weekends for breakfast.
Great stuff: a really welcome addition to the High Street.