Ora d'Aria

Via dei Georgofili, 11, Florence, 50122, Italy

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This restaurant opened in 2007 but moved to its current location in 2011, gaining a Michelin star in the same year. The head chef is Marco Stabile from Tuscany, who prior to this worked in some serious kitchens such as the two star Arnolfo in Colle val d'Elsa. The restaurant, situated in a side street just a few yards from the Ponte Vechhio, is split over two floors, with a dining room and kitchen on the ground floor and a further basement dining area. The decor is modern, with wood flooring, white linen tablecloths and jazz played in the dining room, but at a low volume.      

As well as an à la carte selection there were tasting menus at €75 and €80, and a full vegetarian tasting menu was available too. The substantial wine list had plenty of choice below €50 as well as much grander offerings. Example bottles were Lucente Frescobaldi 2011 at €50 for a label that you can find for €33 in the high street, Grattamacco 2011 Bolgheri Superiore at €90 for a wine that retails at €43, and Antinori Tignanello 2011 at €120 for something  that will set you back €89 in a shop.

The meal began with a trio of nibbles. Beef tartare with a beer marinade was unusual but decent, though under-seasoned. Warm salted savoury Madeleine with ham was excellent, but a "crisp of Tuscan soup" lacked much in the way of distinguishing flavour at all (average barely 14/20). A selection of bread made from scratch in the kitchen comprised spelt  baguettes, focaccia of black cabbage, five cereal bread, brioche and Tuscan white bread. The focaccia was quite good but the Tuscan bread tasted distinctly stale (average 14/20). A further nibble of yellow pumpkin soup and olive oil with liquorice was quite sweet, the liquorice flavour mercifully subtle, the soup enhanced by toasted seeds (15/20).

Egg custard (served cold) came with warm broth of asparagus, cooked asparagus and artichoke chips. Although the components of this were OK, I remain to be convinced about the wisdom of serving hot and cold elements together (14/20). Better were pan-fried scallops with baby beans, the shellfish tender and sweet, and the vegetables having good flavour (15/20).

Tortelli was stuffed with ricotta cheese, served with potato cream, raw red prawns, porcini powder. The pasta was fine but again the mix of hot and cold was rather jarring, and the porcini flavour was lost (14/20). Much better was lasagna with rabbit ragu, cream of peas, and both dried and fresh white asparagus. This was the dish of the night, the rabbit having good flavour, the peas superb, the asparagus good and the lasagna sheets delicate (17/20).

Langoustine and courgette flower tempura came with shellfish bisque and fried courgette and pistachios. The langoustines were fine and the batter itself reasonable, but the dish badly needed more salt, and the courgette flower tempura was distinctly soggy (13/20).

Tuscan beef was coated in breadcrumbs and served with celeriac purée, Vin Santo reduction and strawberry powder. This was very good, the beef having plenty of flavour and the earthiness of the celeriac a good foil for the beef. The odd sounding strawberry powder fortunately had barely any discernible impact on the dish (15/20). Tiramisu was a classic rendition, the coffee flavour really excellent and the texture good (16/20).

Strawberries came with strawberry ice cream and had lovely, strong taste, something I can barely remember from the fruit of the same name in the UK (17/20). Coffee was an excessive €8 with a few pleasant petit fours. If you want a top up of the tiny cup of double espresso, that was another €8 with no extra petit fours.

Service was excellent, the staff friendly and attentive. The bill came to €178 (£132) per person, with a bottle of Oreno 2005 at €100 (a wine that retails at about €36), a glass of dessert wine and an irritating €5 per person cover charge (for what?). If you shared a modest bottle of wine a typical cost per head would be around £110. This seemed quite a lot to me for a meal that was very good in patches but also had some distinct lapses.

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