Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bottega Louie - Los Angeles, CA

I was in charge of picking a restaurant for dinner recently with Kat and Jeanie. I had noticed Bottega Louie when I was driving down 7th Avenue awhile back and mistook it for a Dean & Deluca, a gourmet food store in New York. It has the same white, sparse motif. It definitely piqued my interest and I wanted to check it out. The kitchen is completely open as you enter the dining area and at the far end of the restaurant is a huge pizza oven. The huge windows, high ceilings and white marble floors make the space so much more airy and spacious.

I forgot to make reservations, but I put my name down and waited a few minutes for my friends and once they arrived, we were seated right away. The service was great. The waiter was really helpful and recommended a couple dishes for us. He told us that they are known for their small plates, so it's best to order a bunch of items and share. I especially appreciated it when he described the portion sizes of each of the dishes, so we would have enough food for the table.

We started off with a Louie salad, which has iceberg lettuce, jumbo shrimp, hearts of palm, avocados, sweet onions, tomatoes, bell peppers & Dijon vinaigrette. We all shared this, but might be a bit on the small size for one person. It wasn't the most visually appetizing salad, but it tasted OK. I've heard a lot about their portobello fries, so we ordered it as well. It was delicious. They were meaty and crispy and really good with the garlic aioli sauce. How they fry these mushrooms without it getting all oily and soggy beats me, but it was awesome.
Above, you can see our prosciutto, mozzarella and sage crostini. The butter on the bread made the whole thing sing. We asked the waiter for some suggestions and he said the arancini arrabbiata was popular. I always get suckered into getting arancinis and I never really end up liking them. Don't get me wrong, the arancinis at BL were good, but I'm just not the biggest fan of them to begin with. I just keep on forgetting though.
We ordered the chicken carcioffi. The chicken was tender and the sauce was great. It had artichoke hearts, capers, garlic, herbs and white wine in it. This was the dish the waiter warned us about, that it was on the small side. We ended up ordering another side and kept this dish anyway. It was great and I love how they didn't skimp on the artichokes.
When the food arrived, it looked like it wouldn't be enough food for us, but we were all pretty full after, so it ended up being the perfect amount - thanks to our very nice waiter.

For dessert, we shared the Budino, a butterscotch custard, and an apple tart with vanilla gelato. I'm a huge fan of butterscotch but this was a bit too sweet for even me. I didn't notice until several bites in that there was a sprinkle of sea salt on top. That definitely added another dimension to the custard, but it was still too sweet.
The gelato was excellent and the apple tart was buttery and flaky, and not overly sweet. They also had a chocolate souffle, but you had to order 25 minutes beforehand. Next time, we'll have to try that.
They also had beautiful macaroons and cupcakes in the bakery out front. They were closing down though by the time we were finished with dinner so we didn't get to take any of these home. Such a travesty for me.
Overall the food is good and the prices are really reasonable. There was an article in Bon Appetit recently about the new eateries in downtown LA and BL was mentioned. I might have to check out the others on that list as well, since I liked BL so much. Anyone up for some rattlesnake and rabbit sausage at Wurstkuche?

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017

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