La Ménagère occupies the 1500 square metre site of the former homewares store of the same name, which had been there since 1896 and was the first of its kind in Florence. So it’s fitting that La Ménagère’s new incarnation, opened in 2015, is an innovative and daring multi-use concept space which is unlike anywhere else in Florence: a restaurant, cafe, bar, florist, store and music venue, open daily from 7AM - 2AM. This flexibility is hard to come by in Florence, where it can be a struggle to find somewhere that’s open outside of the strict lunch / dinner hours where you can hang out for a while, (not to mention make use of the free wifi).
The building, with its vaulted ceilings and ancient brickwork and plaster, has been thoughtfully stripped back to its elements by Q Bic architects to create the new space. Reclaimed industrial materials are mixed with new elements, which gives it a cosy and chic vibe inside and out, where there’s both a covered and open air terrace.
In the middle of all this and giving La Ménagère its unique atmosphere is the florist Artemisia. The beautiful flowers for sale are the focal point of your morning cappuccino and pastry. Bud vases adorn the restaurant tables and plants hang from the ceiling and live on shelves all around the space. The name Artemisia cleverly combines that of the iconic female painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who lived and worked in Florence in the early 1600s and the plant, which is traditionally used in both absinthe and vermouth.
The cafe serves breakfast, brunch, coffee, pastries, sandwiches and snacks throughout the day, while the restaurant focuses on seasonally led, deconstructed Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. Within this space, the chefs can be adventurous and experimental in marrying flavours, such as in juniper berry sweetbreads with creme de cassis, or pumpkin creme brûlée with caramelised foie gras. Later in the day at aperitivo time the expertly trained barmen will whip you up a cocktail, served with an ever-changing accompaniment of tapas. There is also a music venue in the basement hosting live events at weekends.
At the same time, you can browse the selection of homewares and objects sold in the store, or choose flowers and plants from Artemisia florist’s long wooden counter. The flowers give the space soul, and soften its industrial edges, tempting you to linger a while.
Via dè Ginori, 8/R
50123 Firenze, Italy
Photography: Christine Juette