La Ménagére

Café to cocktail, furniture to florist

Something is happening in the San Lorenzo area of Florence. This once poor cousin to more gentrified central neighbourhoods has seen a recent influx of new venue openings, many to rival the interior style of New York and London. This tired and touristic area is having a revival. Come inside La Ménagére to see what the fuss is all about. The old Clubhouse on via de′ Ginori has had a complete makeover, a frenetic six weeks to overhaul the space to create a light, contemporary venue that is not just café and restaurant but also sells homewares and has an in-house florist. From breakfast (7.30 am) to the early hours (2 am) you can find what you are looking for from coffee to cocktail, furniture to flowers.

La Ménagére comes from the design team q-bic, also responsible for the interiors of 2014 hot opening, Ditta Artiginale. And this space has a similar feel with exposed walls, metal window finishing′s, the use of natural light and wood materials to create a welcoming space be it for a date on your own or with a group of friends. The design is modern, minimal, clean, and the talent of brothers Luca and Marco Baldini. Inspired by the old yet new, Luca tells me this space was originally part of the 16th century Palazzo Ginori, the Florence family famed for its porcelain, and this ground floor formerly the coach house. It′s high arches and open rooms today invite diners into a modern space to be revered.

The name of the venture is taken from the store which occupied this site from 1896. The original La Ménagére was the first homewares store in Florence and active for over one hundred years. The store holds a place in many Florentine′s hearts so when naming the new venue the team, in a respective nod, named it after its former guise (hence 1896 on the menus). However, the new La Ménagére is anything but old. There are four key areas: the main bar offers fresh coffee (supplied by Ditta Artiginale) from a long wood-panelled bench as fresh pastries and cakes sit teasingly from under a glass cabinet. An open kitchen creates lunch plates with carpaccio or salads (from 7 euro), gourmet panini (from 8 euro) and hamburgers (from 10 euro) plus fresh smoothies and juices for 5 euro.

A full serving restaurant is housed in the back section, where waiters in 1960′s styled clothing with bow ties offering a very dapper look whilst over seeing your food selection. In the kitchen, a team of young cooks create a modern Italian menu with some surprising twists. Take a seat under the flower installation or from the 18m long dining table to try their tasting menu or summer dishes of honey-glazed salmon, fennel salad with peaches, beef with blackberries or suckling pig in orange sauce. Desserts include “Tuttifrutti”: caramelized peach, melon, watermelon tartare, apricot sorbet and meringues. Or perhaps white chocolate mousse with Sichuan pepper strawberry sorbet is more to your tasting. Post dinner, dive into the basement space for free jazz music four days a week.

Photo credit: Sofie Delauw