As it’s afternoon tea week back in England we thought we’d put some of Florence’s best tea houses to the test. First up is the beautiful Florian Restaurant on Via di Parione – the lesser known younger brother of Caffè Florian in Venice (the wonderful little 1700’s baroque café on the Piazza San Marco). We stopped by yesterday just a little after 5pm to find a relatively empty restaurant (it is August after all) full of art on the walls and velvet on the seats – where we indulged in a quiet afternoon of tea, sandwiches and scones in one of what we found out is one Firenze’s most elegant of settings.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Florian’s Florentine incarnation is the wonderful decór. The restaurant is a labyrinth-like farrago of styles, a maze of bejewelled and mirrored corridors leading to a stunning collection of little nooks and crannies, snug rooms and hideaways (each designed by a different artist – the lengthy list of which accompanies your menu inside the restaurant) – some light and filled with pieces from Florian’s esteemed art collection, others with views out onto the street, and like in the images above and below – some dark brooding and atmospheric with more than a subtle nod to the timeless elegance of the original cafe.
The service is good if slightly slow, while the presentation is impeccable. However, Florian being more of a cafe/restaurant than a tea house means that the tea is served in a bag with little instruction and no regard to water temperatures from what I could tell. The sandwiches are a little on the large side though there are only 4 – served with the usual suspects – salmon and cream cheese etc., and the scones though acceptable – weren’t the best – they were a tad too dry for my taste and ( now this is the crunch) were served with whipped cream in place of clotted cream – oh the horror!
Aside from the cream faux pas – Florian does a good job of offering a nice, understated take on the English afternoon tea experience – and with such a beautiful setting, it’s difficult not to want to return – which we’ll do soon enough for a full review.
If you’ve got anything to add or any suggestions for afternoon tea in Florence, then leave a comment below!