My friend Emily and I just managed to sneak the next instalment of Ladies who Lunch into January. The restaurant of choice this time was Bottega, which is located at the top end of Bourke Street, not too far from Parliament.
We were offered bread to begin. Really Good Bread. Sometimes it's the very simple things that make me happy and the bread certainly did! The bread had a lovely chewy crust and moist, soft centre. The friendly and professional waiter came back later to offer us another piece, which I gratefully took because the bread was divine. (Another simple thing at Bottega that made me happy? Good quality wine glasses.)
We started off with the Silician sugar cured kingfish carpaccio with lemon, sherry, currants, radicchio and pinenuts ($18). Look at it. It was so beautiful it was a shame to eat it.
My main was the romesco crusted barramundi fillet with roasted eggplant shown on the left ($31.50). My dish was stunning. It seems like such a simple dish, but it was totally amazing. The fish was cooked perfectly – moist and just flaking under my fork. The eggplant was meltingly tender (and y'know how much I love eggplant). The romesco was full of flavour and garlic. The garlic didn't totally dominate though, and I didn't really notice the amount of garlic until I realised I was sucking down glasses of water like crazy.
Em had the nettle tagliatelle with fresh spanner crab ($21). I'm told that it was delicious and rather filling.
We shared a side of broccolini with lemon anchovy dressing ($6). Again, something relatively simple, but done so well. The still slightly crunchy broccolini was dressed in a salty, buttery, lemon dressing. Breadcrumbs provided a bit of textural difference to the dressing. So freaking gorgeous.
We didn't leave without having dessert. I had the cannoli filled with ricotta, hazelnut and chocolate candied orange with bitter chocolate icecream ($14.50).
The cannoli was a good way to finish off the lunch – not too rich or too sweet. The pastry tubes were slightly crunchy and firm, providing a nice contrast to the soft filling. I did find it a bit hard to eat with a spoon and a fork – too bad it wasn't the kind of place where I could just pick it up with my hands!. While I'm not that into candied orange or orange flavours (I have no problems with the fruit or juice though) I still found myself gobbling the little chocolate candied pieces up. They gave a little zing to the creamy ricotta. The ice cream was a deep, dark chocolate and my only complaint is that it melted too quickly!
Em had the bittersweet chocolate tart with morello cherries and creme fraiche ($15). It looked very decadent!
Bottega is comfy and stylish, and on the day we were there, much quieter than I was expecting (perhaps the rain that day had kept people in their offices).
It was a wonderful lunch to finish off January. The next restaurant in the Ladies who Lunch series will have to be pretty good to compete with this meal!
74 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9654 2252