Stan Graham gives us his verdict on the Italian treats served at the award-winning espresso bar and cantina, La Bottega Milanese.
I have seen The Light, and in The Light is an ‘espresso bar and cantina’ called La Bottega Milanese. As it is in a shopping and entertainment centre which is under a roof and therefore not at the mercy of the elements, the front is open, giving the illusion of al fresco eating and drinking. This is one of the most authentic Italian establishments you will find without having to remove your belt and shoes and show your passport.
The cafe specialises in coffee and cakes but there are also panini available, along with a couple of hot dishes should you want something a little more substantial. I had the parmigiano (£5.00) which was served on a fresh salad. My hopes were not high, as the dish was in the chiller cabinet and microwaved to order. The result, however, was very good and, had I not known, I would have believed that it had come straight out of the oven. The main addition to the mozzarella and the parmesan was aubergines which were cooked well enough to have lost the bitter taste which can linger if they are underdone. A 125ml glass of house red (£2.75) came in a suitably authentic Dimplex tumbler. The other hot dish on offer was pasta with huge meatballs.
For ‘dessert’ I had a cannoli (£2.95), again delicious and authentically Sicilian, or so I was lead to believe by the website. My black Americano (2.00) came in a glass flask like the ones which I used to use in school chemistry lessons. It was substantially larger than the cup so a refill and a half was a welcome bonus. A neat touch was that there was a cold water tap on the bar, along with some more of the ubiquitous Dimplexes, so that you could help yourself to water to accompany your wine or espresso.
My only gripe with the establishment is the number of tables at which to eat. There are four or five small ones in the cafe which seat two people but the tables and stools ‘outside’ are tall and not really conducive to comfortable dining, although they are fine for a coffee and cake and to people watch, i.e. be nosy.
Talking about being nosy, I thought that I would take a trip to check out the Bond Court branch. This place is much bigger with lots more tables and chairs. The food on offer is in much the same vein as the Light branch but the decor is industrial chic. There are tables and chairs outside in Bond Court itself but their use will depend on the weather. It was a lovely sunny day when I called and, although not full, there was a great atmosphere to the place both inside and out. It will be even better for an al fresco espresso when the building opposite is finished.
All in all, both venues are well worth a visit.