Bottega Louie: Heaven on 7th and Grand

By Tsz on November 28, 2009

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Food heaven that is. My first time walking in Bottega Louie got some getting used to. Walking into its cavernous center, you’re enveloped by white space and a flurry of activity.

On the right, there is the gleaming silver kitchen, inhabited by silent cooks producing plates of technicolor entrees and sides—they’re so close that you can reach out and pick off a roasted tomato garnish. That is, if the clear glass partition wasn’t in the way.

On the left, neatly dressed bartenders mixes up old fashion drinks for an equally well-dressed crowd. And behind, oh my, tidy rows of baked goods and deli items patiently wait for you to give them a new home.

To the front, a stately gold and marble table sits with a single light and a giant book of records, where a calm gatekeeper, I mean, hostess, politely asks for your last name. For the rest of your stay, that is exactly how they will address you. A bit old fashioned, but welcome nevertheless.

I’ve dine at Bottega Louie five times since it opened, and to this day, it still gets some getting used to the grand scale of the restaurant. Other pleasant surprises are their extensive menu, the prices (you’re definitely getting your money’s worth), and their service.

Now, the service is no where near perfect. In fact, there’s almost always a little mishap during my visits—a dish goes missing, or the waiter seems to have disappeared—these are normal for a relatively new restaurant. What is impressive is how they fix the problems promptly and earnestly.

Also, a man in gray (Eric) usually comes around sometime during your meal and ask for your opinion and cater to your whims, which is a bonus. Once, my friend exclaimed how delicious BL’s homemade apple sauce (the accompaniment to the pork chops—must get) was and in a few minutes, he came back to produced 2 gravy pitchers full of the cinnamon goodness for her as a dessert.

Although the decor and the service are both stellar, the true star is the food. Their cuisine is simple and filling, featuring fresh ingredients—you can really taste the difference. Here is my list of must-get dishes:

1. Portabello Fries: Giant strips of the mushroom are lightly battered and fried with a light covering of parsley and grated parmesan. Unbelievable when dipped in their basil aoili.

2. Pork Chops: You get not one, not two, but three juicy and expertly charred chops. The accompanying apple sauce tastes just sweet enough and with the added zing of Christmas cheer (it makes for an awesome dessert).

3. Trenne: Triangular tubes of pasta are pan fried on one side and served with a rich beef stew and saute kale. I’ve never seen this served anywhere else.

4. Peas with prosuitto: Sweet, tender fresh peas that tastes nothing like the frozen starchy stuff served anywhere else, flavored with shallots and good pork.

5. Eggs Benedict: Textbook good. The spinach cuts through the richness of the heavy sauce nicely.

6. Butterscotch Budino: Silky smooth butterscotch pudding, topped with a layer of caramel, a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly whipped cream. You won’t want to share this.

7. Fruit tart and white chocolate baguette: If you still have room, get a tart or any baked goods from their bakery. I usually take them home, mmm.

Writing about Bottega Louie is enough to make my mouth water—how fortunate am I to work just mere blocks away?

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