Thus far we have discovered that there are hundreds, no THOUSANDS, of opportunities to indulge in awesome food in Florence. From the piazzas flanked with cafes, brick oven pizzerias and gelaterias on every corner, to the Central Market food hall the options for fabulous food and local culture are seemingly endless. If you’re looking for something a little more special than any ‘ole restaurant though, try stumbling into a neighborhood gem just as we did last night.
We had walked by La Menagere almost every morning in Florence on our way to our daily outing. We always remarked at its open, yet cozy interior that was divided into three distinct sections, all to be seen from the completely open storefront.
The first section, a long banquet table that stretches 24 seats long on either side, was always perfectly set for dinner. The middle section, a small kitchen accessories boutique in the front and dining room in the back, was whimsically decorated with giant head shots of storybook animals dressed in Elizabethan era costumes and white candelabras dripping wax. The last section, a bar/bistro, was laden with people grabbing a coffee and brioche.
Every time we strolled by we remarked that we needed to give it a try, and last night the time had come. Knowing nothing of the menu or the concept, we set out for a “quick bite” at that “cute place” we had seen everyday. The moment we arrived we knew we had struck gold.
We walked up to see different parties all dining together at the communal banquet table. Inside the store were people sitting at low tables enjoying cocktails and conversation over the bustling atmosphere. Back in the dining room were table as diversely sized, shaped and decorated as the guests sitting at them.
We put in our name with the hostess who said she might be able to accommodate us, even though we didn’t have a reservation. And accommodate us she did. After no more than 10 minutes we were whisked back into the dining room, weaving through tables, past the grand piano, and into the kitchen where were told we would be enjoying our dinner.
The chef’s table was minimally decorated, the gorgeous wood table being the star. With our charming server Carmine at the helm, we began an unforgettable evening set against the sleek backdrop of the busy kitchen.
Before placing our orders, we asked Carmine for the chef’s recommendations. Ordering both of those, the roasted gnocchi and the braised beef cheek, along with three other entrees, we were blown away. The meals placed before us were as much of a treat for our eyes and noses as they were for our tastebuds. The beef cheek and one of the other entrees, the pork shank, were without a doubt two of the best dishes we have had during our time in Firenze. We were passing dishes all over the table while the chefs were among us shuffling food all over the kitchen. It was truly a symphony for all the senses.
After finishing our entrees, and having to resist from licking our plates clean, we decided that even though we were so full, dessert was a must. After all dessert IS for the soul not the stomach. We tried Carmine’s favorite dessert, peaches with cream and ‘sparkling’ chocolate crumble; like Pop Rocks circa 2001, and strawberry sorbet over coconut crumble all accompanied by a lovely dessert wine complements of our new favorite Firenze folk.
With our stomachs and souls both at full capacity its was time for bed, but not before a photo with the hilarious chefs, and Carmine. We gathered behind the counters sporting our new chef hats for a quick pic to cap the evening, definitely one for the books.
Our evening at La Menagere was by far the most enjoyable we have had in this magical city. If you are ever in the Florence area, be it up the block or across town, they will not disappoint. We cannot wait to return.
As always thank you for continuing to follow up as we Karpe Diem…