I felt just like a kid in a candy store when I walked into Bottega Louie in downtown LA today. As you enter the restaurant, you are immediately hit with an array of tantalizing cakes, cookies, candies and confections, boxes and bows. It was sensory overload, a real-life Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience. There were endless rows of glass cases filled with the most beautifully crafted French pastries, and a sea of pastel colored macarons as far as the eye could see. I fear not the carbohydrate, so I boldly entered and made my way to our table accompanied by my friends “the pastry girls”.
Before you get to the seating area you pass an open kitchen where you can view the chefs feverishly cooking and waiters buzzing and whirring about a mile a minute. Everyone’s attired in crisp white shirts and black ties. The seating area is a grand space; soaring ceilings with intricate crown moldings and stark white walls that act as the perfect canvas for all the brightly colored confections. A wall of floor to ceiling windows lets the light stream in and creates a warm environment.
At the back of the restaurant is an open area with a pizza oven where diners can watch the cooks prepare the large variety of pizzas they serve. So about the pizza. We ordered the Bianco Pizza ($18) with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted garlic and arugula. Everyone kind of looked at each other quite disappointed. It was cheesey, but not in a good way, it was actually pretty soggy and the crust was not crisp at all. We think maybe we chose the wrong pizza, so next time I think I would select a pizza with a red sauce and hope for better results.
I did though, enjoy the Portobello fries ($10). The fries had a crispy, crunchy breading on them and it’s served with a basil aioli which was so good we put it on the pizza.
We also ordered the Lyonnaise Salad ($12) with frisee, watercress, shallots, chives, lardons and poached egg with a warm red wine vinaigrette. Had I not had the same salad at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon a week before, I may have liked this one better, but it greatly lacked seasoning and an abundance of oil seemed to drown out a lot of the flavor. Since Bottega Louie is a bakery, I hoped this would have been accompanied by some crusty French bread, but it wasn’t.
My favorite sandwich has always been the club sandwich ($12). I had high hopes that Bottega Louie would nail this one..but they didn’t. They’ve added hard-boiled eggs to their version. Maybe it’s my own personal taste, but for me it just killed the essence of a club sandwich. Again, maybe it’s just personal taste, but the homemade potato chips had no seasoning whatsoever. Some salt would have made these terrific.
I want to add that the service was extremely friendly and efficient. I love the environment they’ve created here. It’s light and bright, and a virtual feast for the eyes. If you love French breads, pastries and confections as much as I do, then this is a destination for you. I don’t know of another place in Los Angeles that has the variety and selection that Bottega Louie has. On my way out I did stop at the bakery section and purchased several items to go, and they were superb.
Bottega Louie 700 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90017 (213) 802-1470