Floriditas a recipe for success

Busy at Floriditas
T
he name is Cuban, it’s located on Cuba Street, but the interior echoes Paris and the menu is a showcase for New Zealand’s foodie know-how. This is Floriditas, a Wellington café and restaurant so cool it doesn’t have a Facebook page. No molecular gastronomy here. It’s a WYSIWYG kind of place, using the country’s best and freshest produce. And the coffee is good too, say Wellington coffee snobs.

Exterior of Floriditas

Floriditas by day
We do brunch: Smoked mackerel with potato mash and poached egg ($NZ19); Scrambled eggs with Aoraki hot smoked salmon ($17.50). The smoked mackerel is the standout dish. The sweetness of the smashed potato (rather than a peeled and pummelled version) is the perfect bed for the succulent, delicately-smoked fish, with a dressing of olive oil and dill. The poached egg has a vivid orange yolk – a sure sign of free-range goodness – which oozes deliciously onto the plate. The creamy scrambled eggs are also vivid and tasty, with the hot-smoked salmon falling apart to the touch of a fork.

Floriditas scrambled eggs, hot smoked salmon

Smoked makarel with potato and poached egg, Floriditas
Co-owner Marc Weir (with Julie Clark and James Pedersen) opened Floriditas nine years ago. The windy New Zealand harbourside capital has wall-to-wall bars and eateries (it has more bars per square kilometre than New York), but Floriditas remains a favourite with locals and visitors to the city. Marc puts it down to consistency in the fickle world of food where places open and close faster than you can say sauv blanc.

“It’s really important that whom ever walks through that front door at no matter what time of day or evening, the product, experience and service is the same,” he tells me. “Not something easy to do, but we get it right 99% of the time. Our food is fresh, simple and delicious using the best of suppliers and trying to source the best. Also when we opened we wanted to do it all, breakfast lunch brunch and dinner.  One of the reasons why this as worked so well, it that we treat every aspect and ingredient at Floriditas with the same respect. Nothing is more important than anything else, ie: the fillet steak is no more important than the boiled egg in the morning. Everything deserves the same care and respect.”

Floriditas Heart Shaped Cakes
The interior of Floriditas is distinct old world charm, which reflects the character of inner-city Cuba Street, also known as Wellington’s bohemian quarter. The interior is dark wood, decorative lamps and light fittings, with a white marble countertop. You could plonk it down in the middle of Paris and no-one would know it wasn’t French. Is the menu seasonal? “Very, the dinner menu is printed daily, the other three menus ie; breakast, lunch and brunch, we print as needed when things change,” says Marc.
Lamp in Floriditas
Highlights on the lunch menu: Cloudy Bay surf clams, chorizo, white wine, flat-leaf parsley linguine ($21.40); Cavolo Nero, pine cut and Parmesan risotto ($19.50); Brown sugar pavlova, peach, salted caramel and pistachio nuts ($12).
Chard risotto, from the Floriditas cookbook
Chard risotto, from the Floriditas cookbook

Dinner menu highlights: Smoked eel and cucumber ribbons, watercress, dill salad and sherry vinegar dressing ($18.5); Chargrilled Black Angus filet steak (200g), roasted parsnips and crispy fried sage ($38); Apple, Pedro Ximenez raisins and walnut crumble with vanilla icecream ($13). Floriditas also produces its own jams and other preserves, and has a selection of way-too-tempting café treats on the counter.

Interior of Floriditas
Floriditas Jam
Have food trends changed in Wellington recently? “I was discussing this with another foodie the other day, I don’t think recently…but there is a strong trend of just good food, not tortured, just kept simple and accessible,” Marc says.
Asparagus salad - nice and simple
Asparagus salad – nice and simple
I ask him if there any difference between what Wellingtonians want to eat, and visitors from abroad? Not much, apparently. Eating New Zealand’s best is the only criteria. “We are known both locally, nationally and internationally. It’s great to hear from people overseas whom have hunted us out.”
CHECK LIST:
  • Floriditas, 161 Cuba St, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Phone 04 381 2212
  • Open seven days a week, and no surcharge on public holidays
  • Bookings available for groups over seven
  • Extensive wine list features the best of New Zealand, and imported drops
  • www.floriditas.co.nz

*Images: Taste for Travel and courtesy of Marc Weir

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