Mezè Wild Dining: sharing plates in a sleek locale

Mezè Wild Dining: sharing plates in a sleek locale

All the flavours of the Mediterranean by candlelight

Tue 19 Mar 2024 11:23 AM

Sleek Art Deco mirrors and cubic glass chandeliers greet diners to the glam ambience at Mezè Wild Dining along central via dei Lamberti in Florence.

The music is at just the right volume; not pumping, but participating in the conversation. Black and white chevrons dazzle on the floor, while medieval-fashioned bricks blend effortlessly into the raw concrete walls hung with unashamedly bold textile art. An antique carriage clock, period Italian lamps and a ceramic bust of a Sicilian woman with prickly pears as hair are just a few of the captivating details. It’s manifest that the interior designer, who turns out to be the owner, had a ball styling this ground-floor restaurant in Hotel Calimaia’s west wing, which opened in February.

It’s International Women’s Day when we visit, the night after the locale’s impressive Great Gatsby-style opening party complete with edgy burlesque performances, and yet the maître, bartenders and waiting staff welcome us energetically. A warm loaf of house-made bread and the six-strong host of meze—garlic confit in 12-year balsamic vinegar, tzatziki without garlic, red and green bell pepper sauces, intensely salty labneh balls and charred baba ghanoush—are placed on the black-flecked marble tabletop in a riot of primary colours. It’s almost a meal in itself, although we’re not overwhelmed to see more sharing plates arrive, or as talented Jerusalem-born head chef Mor Michael explains, “You should feel light enough to go dancing afterwards. The dips pair with every dish and provide a flow to the meal. You keep going back to them.”

Next comes a refreshing fennel and blood orange salad; yellowtail sashimi dotted with fermented yogurt; a sensuous chicken liver pate to spread on brioche; and a beautiful beef tartare hand-chopped with capers, topped with a quail egg, sprinkled with onion dust and served with fries. The table is full, literally full, with all the flavours of the Mediterranean. The highlight is yet to come: qubbah, a crunchy bulgur dumpling filled with cauliflower and leeks that benefit from spot-on spicing. Served with a super fresh salad of radishes, coriander and mint, it’s undeniably the chef’s signature dish. That’s not to say that the French-leaning Celebration of the Sea showcasing the day’s catch with white wine, butter and lemon, or the unctuous whisky-laced Skewer on a Stick fail to please because they most certainly do. Be sure to leave room for the trio of desserts: chocolate marshmallows dusted in gold, sesame semifreddo and a reviving cream cheese crumble that’s nowhere near cloying.

A word about the wine list. While Italian wines make up half of the offering, niche picks from California, Australia and Uruguay provide a much-needed international tasting experience in a cosmopolitan destination like Florence. The multitude of flavours in the meze were expertly paired with a juicy young Tempranillo.  

Some tea to finish… Like older sibling Angel Roofbar and Dining, don’t miss the selfie op on the way to the restroom. And don’t leave without indulging in one of the signature cocktails at the seductive bar. Dirty Dancing (Campari, gin, chartreuse, pineapple and lime), anyone? Just say yes.  

Mezè Wild Dining

Via dei Lamberti 5

+39 345 3526387

Open 5-10pm; closed Monday + Tuesday

This review was written based on a meal for two kindly provided by Mezè Wild Dining.

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