Bottega Louie: The Sequel

1-lemon pancakes opener

Where: Bottega Louie

Location: 700 South Grand Avenue, Downtown

I’m a big believer in killing two birds with one stone. So when it came time to think about how to make Valentine’s Day special, I absolutely loved my boyfriend’s idea to make it a sequel. After an impressive anniversary dinner last month, I knew I’d be back in the near future to partake in what Bottega Louie is also famous for – their weekend brunch. Rather than deal with the chaos of dining out on Valentine’s Day, we decided to celebrate the following morning over an indulgent brunch.

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{Bottega Louie, exterior.}

It’s quite fascinating how a mere 9 hour difference makes downtown LA feel completely different. While the night finds you on rather deserted streets (minus the bustle of activity near restaurants) prompting a more on-guard approach to the city, the day turns into a flourishing metropolis with sidewalks full of people of every nationality you can imagine. This is the part of downtown that I’ve come to love – it’s a magnet for attracting people from all walks of life.

Brunch inside Bottega Louie’s completely exposed, uncolored, minimalist establishment creates a space for enjoying your meal while pure California sunshine beams through the intensely large windows (which also leads to much better pictures for “the sequel” post).

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(Bottega Louie, interior.}

I opted for their acclaimed lemon ricotta pancakes (pictured above) drizzled in their house-made blueberry syrup, with a glass of fresh cold pressed green apple juice. The pancakes had just the right amount of zest, while the ricotta added a more fluffy texture. An interesting thing to note is that while I very much liked the blueberry syrup when I dined in the restaurant, I think I much preferred it with regular maple syrup (shout out to Trader Joe’s) as I ate the left overs the following morning. I could taste the zest in the pancakes more. It seems the blueberry syrup slightly buries what’s unique about them. And though the trend is quite popular around LA right now with juicery after juicery popping up all over town, this was my first time ordering anything cold pressed. I wasn’t disappointed. Once you look through the frothiness that gathers at the top, I enjoyed the simplicity of natural juice without all of the added sugar. I think I became a cold pressed juice fan last Saturday morning around 11:30am.

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{Fresh cold pressed green apple juice.}

Of course, one cannot leave the “Louie” without a quick stop in the patisserie section of the restaurant to shop for a little treat to take home. I’m already a fan of their vanilla, strawberry, and lemon macaroons; so I decided to try something different this time. If the visuals are any indication of how special and intricate every single pastry was in the case, I wish a picture could capture taste. I stepped out onto the busy downtown street with 2 fresh cupcakes in hand. Dessert was all the much sweeter for the next 2 days!

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{Patisserie cases.}

As expected, Bottega Louie didn’t disappoint. The perk of this particular experience was that we were seated immediately (score!) and one really gets a feel for the stark decor as natural light surrounds you. Where our experience was weaker this time was in the service. Our waitress was nice, just a little slow. We also went through three different waiters in the little over an hour that we were there, due to rotating shifts, I assume. Understandably, it’s busy, so it didn’t hinder my experience.

Bottega is an equally fabulous choice for brunch or dinner (which you can read more about here) when you’re looking to celebrate something special over a special meal. And dare I say it? It’s officially my new favorite restaurant in LA. I’ll keep you posted if this changes in the near future. I have a list of restaurants a mile long that I still need to get through.

As for “Bottega Louie: The Sequel,” this my friends is…

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{Post-brunch take home sweet treats: vanilla bean and strawberry cupcakes. Divine!}

3 Years at Bottega Louie

bottega louie

Where: Bottega Louie
Location: 700 South Grand Avenue, Downtown

I don’t spend much time downtown. Aside from the horrible traffic to get there (the 110 is never your friend); I’m rather prejudiced of the maze of one-way streets that greet you all around. I accidentally had the pleasure of turning down a one-way street once in downtown LA and let’s just say…that was an experience. While I’m still not a fan of its one-way streets, downtown LA has become something special and is on the up-and-up after recent and on-going restorations to the area. It’s still very much “sketchy” in many parts, but it’s become quite the hot spot for young Angelenos – particularly when it comes to dining.

So, when it was time to celebrate our 3 year anniversary, I wanted to shake things up and get out of my usual Westside to Mid-City proper comfort zone and head downtown to check out what I’ve been missing. After sifting through a few options, we went with a restaurant that’s been on my list for over a year now. I’d first heard about it on the blogosphere, later emphasized with an enticing photo on Instagram to keep its memory alive. A quick check and vet on Yelp.com to confirm legitimacy, and our agonizing decision given so many options, was made.

On the corner of 7th and Grand Avenue is the highly regarded Bottega Louie. Known for its exquisite patisserie, bar, and small market right before you enter the large warehouse-sized restaurant, it’s also famous for its weekend brunch. That didn’t seem to make it any less packed during dinner hours. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations (which really sucks – get it together!) we arrived just after 9:15pm, hoping to miss some of the Friday night rush. Dream on. Bottega Louie was still very much bustling and very loud. We did our best to occupy ourselves during the 40 minute wait for a table, by visiting the popular bakery to indulge in a few sweet treat souvenirs to take home – their renowned macaroons (for me) and a delectable milk chocolate bar (for him).

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{Rainbow of macaroons.}

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{Patisserie.}

I don’t know how they do it given the size of the restaurant and how crowded it is, but just as they promised – a hostess comes and “finds you” to escort you to your table. This was cause for concern, what if they can’t find us and give our table to the next person on the list? (Enter “pissed-dom” if we get bumped, here.) Yet Bottega lived up to its reputation of chic impressiveness. They clearly note a description when you check-in (and would rather discreetly stalk you around the restaurant than deign to give out pagers).

Its open, achromatic, dimly lit space gives it a modern, yet relaxed feel; but its high ceilings and exposed design don’t bode well for the acoustics. It was a pretty loud venue, but evened out as the night went on (or perhaps I’d just lost some hearing). Our waitress was one of the best I’d ever had and the food simply divine. The portions were fair given the cost, though they can be rather “nickel and dimey.” Many of their dishes are priced a la carte. I ordered their chicken parmesan thinking it would come everything standard, when the waitress politely asked me if I’d like to order a “side of pasta” (really, you guys – who eats chicken parmesan without pasta!?!).

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{Chicken parmesan…and yes, I ordrered a side of pasta.}

Bottega Louie is an expensive treat, but a perfect place for a special night out. While it has a few flaws, it’s one of my new LA favorites. I’m very much looking forward to checking out their famous weekend brunch next month for the first time and will report back soon. Until then, bon appetit!

IMPRESSIONS

PROS: Great atmosphere, delicious food, superb service, amazing patisserie (their macaroons are a must try), open until midnight.

CONS: No reservations, very loud, long wait times during rush hours, menu priced a la carte, parking can be tricky.

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{Vanilla, lemon, strawberry, rose, and violet macaroons to go. Divine!}

*please click header photo for image source, all others are mine.


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