E+L Eats – A Labor Day Visit to Bottega Louie

(Our menu, delicious from beginning to end)

After hearing so much about this eatery for quite some time, I finally headed over to Bottega Louie (700 South Grand Avenue, LA, CA 90017) on Labor Day with a friend for dinner. We went at 7pm and I was a bit nervous about getting a table since Louie does not take reservations, but we obviously had gotten there before the rush and were seated practically immediately. The extremely high ceilings, wide open space with view into the kitchens (there is the pizza section, and the regular kitchen), and the simple approach to decor really appealed to me, and I was curious how the food was going to hold up. (Find out the verdict after the jump.)

(Very French interior and exterior)

To sum it up: the food was very good! Pricing is fair, in the mid-range – $18 for pizzas, which are so large that there are easily enough for two. My pasta Belmundo (homemade pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic, arugula, olive oil and parmesan) was $12, and my friend opted for the hanger steak, $20 (it comes with vegetables). For an appetizer we shared the asparagus with fried egg, which went for $9. No mess-ups here, the steak was juicy and buttery, my pasta had the right amount of bite to it, and didn’t drown in oil, and the asparagus was grilled to perfection, with the accompanying sauce (a lemon aioli) giving the dish a refreshing twist.

(The pastry section is beautiful!)

For dessert we opted for the chocolate souffle, $15, which has a wait time of 20 minutes, and it was delicious as well, served with a vanilla sauce (also portioned to be enough for two people). Now, the only two things that kept this from being a perfect evening was the noise level and the overall timing of the meal. I’ve since spoken to several other people who’ve visited Bottega Louie, and funnily enough all of them mentioned in the first sentence how loud the place is. And I have to agree: my friend and I could hardly hear each other, and at the end of the meal I was seriously getting a sore throat from all the necessary yelling.

(I’ll come back for breakfast)

The timing of the meal was for my sensibilities a bit on the quick side. Now, it might be the European in me, but I like to take my time when eating and enjoying myself. If we hadn’t ordered the souffle, we would have been done with the entire meal (from sitting down to paying the check) in about 45 minutes. To be clear: our server couldn’t have been nicer. She was absolutely wonderful, courteous, and knowledgeable. No one was explicitly rushing us, it was more about the intrinsic prompt rhythm of the service.

On a sidenote: Bottega has an exquisite bakery/pastry section, which I inspected beforehand, and of course, also tested. The macarons, $1.75 each, melted in my mouth and were wonderfully flavored. (I had the Earl Grey as well as the Grand Cru.) The cupcakes and the rest of the pastry offerings were a feast for the eyes, and I will come back to try the croissants. They also make their own chocolate, $6. I tried the milk chocolate, and wasn’t too fond of it -  not chocolaty enough for my taste.

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