Floriditas: Well loved, but not worn out

SOHIE SPEER
Last updated 12:24 05/10/2012

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Walk by Floriditas Cafe and Restaurant in Cuba St at any time of the day, and it's busy.

At 6.30am on any weekday you'll see solo diners sipping on their first coffee of the day while reading the newspaper. Attempt to get a table at 11am at the weekend and you'll be hard- pressed to find one.

Afternoon tea diners fill the tables as they sample homebaked delights. And in the evenings there's another rush of dinner-time customers.

So arriving shortly before 1pm on Sunday, we were surprised to get a table so easily. It must have been the lull between the brunch and dinner rushes.

It was one of those all-too-rare stunning Wellington Sundays, with the sun streaming in the windows - the perfect day for glasses of refreshing white peach fizz and light salads.

The food was immaculate: I had a salad of roasted baby beets, salty serrano ham and olives and tangy wisps of shaved goats cheese ($19), while my sister's was a delicious combination of chargrilled broccolini, roasted chicken and walnuts with a mustard dressing ($19.50).

With so many tables empty, we expected attentive service, but had to ask for our water glasses to be filled and for our orders to be taken.

We asked for coffees with a blood orange and chocolate tart ($5) to follow.

However, our waitress did suggest a caramel gingerbread loaf ($5), which was a delicious accompaniment to coffee after the last lemon curd butterfly cake I had my eye on had been snaffled by another customer.

Floriditas has become a stalwart of the Cuba precinct since it was opened more than seven years ago by Julie Clark, Marc Weir and James Pedersen.

Outside is the regular Cuba St mishmash of the bedraggled beggars, the young hipsters, and over-the-hill rockers. Inside it's distinctly European, an oasis in the city.

It feels well loved, but not worn out.

And even when it's busy, you never feel rushed. It is casual dining with a sophisticated feel.

The menu remains fresh and seasonal, with regular favourites mixed with new combinations that show a refined palate: a less-is-more mentality of using the best-quality ingredients sparingly.

Our two meals totalled $90.50.

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- The Wellingtonian

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