I hadn't been to Verona in years. Thankfully, it was like nothing had changed. This is much more of a destination than a restaurant or a cafe. It's open all hours but no matter what time you come, it's buzzing. It first appeared on the K Rd scene in 1992 and quickly established itself as a firm favourite among the artsy / alternative crowd.
The first thing you notice is people lounging around in the seats out the front. It's not easy to nab a seat here. I'm a non-smoker though so I'm happier indoors anyhow. The American style booths create a cosy atmosphere and yet still allow you to watch the interesting goings-on outside.
Service is friendly and super laid-back. On the night I visited, we were quickly attended to and our questions about the menu helpfully explained. Instead of a list of entrees and mains, Verona has "smaller" and "larger" dishes. Despite asking for a smaller meal to come as an entree, it came together with the larger meals we had ordered. A bit disappointing but no matter; the "Chinese Whisper" was divine and gone in seconds. The crispy sesame seed-coated morsels were a flavour explosion; chewy yet smooth with buffalo haloumi, mashed kumara and a hint of kaffir lime.
The larger meals we ordered were tasty yet not quite as exciting in presentation or flavour. As a main I ordered the Marinated Organic Tofu with a raw slaw of cabbage, kale and seaweed with miso dressing. The flavours were simple and balanced but since it was classed as a larger dish perhaps it could've been a bit more hearty. My friend ordered Mussels, which was exactly that. They say you eat with eyes first, well neither dish had a great deal of visual appeal.
Verona is known for it's consistently good desserts. The Summer Fruit Hazelnut and Oat Crumble was no exception. At first I didn't quite know what to make of the flavour of rosemary paired with fruit but it worked really well. The crumble was warm, comforting and not overly sweet.
The wine is reasonably priced although the range is a bit limited. All in all, the food's unpretentious and wholesome but a bit more flair wouldn't go amiss and nor would a wider range of larger meals. What draws people to Verona more than anything is its relaxed creative vibe and that's why I'll happily be back.