Melange Crouch End – restaurant review

Posted on 14 March 2013
By Emma Cowles
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We had been tipped to an ultimate dining experience for a reasonable price, in the leafy suburbs of North London and so Purple Revolver moseyed on down to Melange, the French/Italian themed bistro.

Nestled away at 45 Topsfield Parade in the heart of Crouch End, the place was buzzing with like minded diners, young couples, and gaggles of cheerful friends, all of which were more than content with the warm ambience that welcomed you on arrival.

On entry, the décor greets you in a refined, yet understated manner. The restaurant exudes cosiness, but this warmth is strangely twinned with a classic, minimalist and contemporary feel.

Branding themselves as a ‘stylish contemporary twist in the versatile industry-village interior’, they get it just right with the room complimented by wooden floors and wooden tables, with metal, ‘canteen like’ chairs, awarding the place a non pretentious, relaxed air. But there’s more to this place than simplicity.

On closer inspection, you can see that every aspect of the décor has been catered to, from the water carafes, to the salt and pepper shakers, to the overhead, low key lighting. Each item of decor is carefully thought out, and to great effect.

The most eye-catching part of the scenery has to be the 2-metre long projection of 1930’s Charlie Chaplin films, onto the right hand wall. This harking back to an earlier, ‘classy’ time really adds to the nostalgic, sophisticated feel of the place.

What’s more, with the retro movie casting comforting, flickering shadows over you while you dine, your left feeling pretty romantic – almost as though you’re the star of your own 1930’s flick. Lights, camera, action!

These elements fit together perfectly to award this restaurant a truly unique feel.

Now it was time for the food…
To start, we opted for the baked goats cheese with organic bread and artichoke starter, which literally melted in the mouth. The combination of the soft, warm goats cheese with the hearty wholegrain bread was divine.

The restaurant boasts a self professed ‘modern interpretation’ of the rustic cooking styles of local French and Italian restaurants, and this dish certainly represented this. We also tried the bresaola – thinly sliced cured beef with rocket and shaved parmesan, which took us all the way to the stradas of Rome and back again. With Italy in our hearts, we were then offered lemon water to cleanse our palettes for round two… bring it on!

Seafood linguine with white wine and chilli was top of our list, along with everyone’s favourite, steak and chips. This was an upmarket steak and chips mind, served on a rustic wooden serving board, with the thick cut, homemade chips in a ornamental bowl on the side. The meat was high quality, mouth watering and cooked to perfection.

We missed out on the seafood risotto with prawns, mussels, clams and white wine, which looked equally as jaw dropping on the table next to us.

Desert wise, all the classics were on offer. Our advice; it would be a crime to miss the chocolate fondant.

This menu offers traditional, honest, real food, and the highest quality of locally sourced ingredients. This in itself sets the bistro apart from its competitors.
Our waitress was outstanding, with a warm friendly smile and helpful manner from the second we stepped through the door, to the moment we put our coats back on and reached for our umbrellas, to brace the wind and rain outside.

True, there are many French and Italian inspired restaurants in London. But this one’s special. Be it the comforting flicker and humour of Charlie Chaplin movies in the background, the inviting décor, or the amicable nature of the restaurant staff – this place is one of a kind.

We tip our hats, Chaplin style, to the Melange – the ultimate dining experience.