SET UP & SITE
Look up. There is an ornate plaster ceiling, painted white and a kind of minimalist bare-bulb chandelier. At the counter there is a sign: "Everyone is a critic." Florette is named after Freddy's grandmother. Freddy is the French proprietor and he and his partner have created a beautiful little space on the long and famous Auckland strip that offers mostly noodles and dumplings. There's a gateaux shop next door, a crystal shop, and next to that the best cobbler in Auckland, Col's. Florette is only three months old and yet it feels as though it belongs here. It has an authentic, friendly buzz. We order at the counter and take a small table for two.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
I overhear the chef say chirpily and matter of factly, that she will be working until midnight to fill the cabinets with baking for the weekend. She makes every divine morsel on site every day and shares with us her nan's advice for baking: always add another 10g of butter. Just, you know, in case. There are apple slippers, caramelised pineapple friands, tarts, croque-monsieurs and other classics. It's a simple blackboard menu. I choose the omelette with vegetable filling (feta, chargrilled peppers, rocket and courgette, $12) and Chris orders the croque-monsieur ($10). I am so tempted to order an Iced Snickers ($8), but instead we order a soy flat white ($4.50) and a regular flat white ($4). They use Atomic beans. Smart move. The balance is perfect - strong, rich and creamy. The omelette arrives on a small bread board, perfectly cooked and nicely rustic in presentation. Nothing pretentious here. We finish with a citron and passionfruit tart ($5.50) to share. It's intense. In a good way. I will be going back for the chicken baguette, the toasted coconut mocha and the charcoal ciabatta.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
Freddy and his partner whizz around, but there is no sense of panic. "I'm so sorry for the chaos," he says. I say "merci", tragically, after everything. It's midday-ish and the place is buzzing, and they are the cooks, the baristas, the order-takers but they are relaxed and super-charming. Once finished, you could do some treasure hunting at Salvation Armani up the road; rent a movie by Jean-Luc Goddard from Videon; grab a bottle of Champagne from Glengarry, just next door; pick up that pair of Le Coq Sportif shoes you've had resoled at Col's.