Bottega with the Boys
We celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with dinner at Bottega.
By Jan Walsh
I am very blessed to have both my sons, Jordan and Ross, home from Florida, for Mother’s Day weekend. And we choose Bottega for our celebratory dinner.
Owners Frank and Pardis Stitt reopened Bottega’s dining room recently with limited seating, so this is our first time inside in more than a year. As we arrive to a valet in waiting, our table is also ready, in the center of the dining room with views of this two-story restaurant and bar. Pardis stops by for a visit as we are toasting with hand crafted, can’t miss cocktails Hemingway, Strawberry Fields, and Pecan Old Fashioned. The Hemingway is a mix of Plantation 3 stars rum, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, fresh grapefruit juice, and lime. It is a refreshing and thirst quenching, acidic, citrus, and seltzer like sipper. The Pecan Old Fashioned is a serious must for folks who love orange and bourbon. Served in a low ball of Knob Creek bourbon, house pecan orgeat, bitters, and orange peel. We celebrate each spring with Bottega’s Strawberry Fields. This lovely, light, and luscious tini is a shaken synthesis of strawberry-infused vodka and house-made lemonade.
We pair our drinks with some of the world’s best bread: Bottega’s Focaccia dipped in Bottega’s own infused olive oil. For starters my guys opt for Fritto Misto, and I have the Parmesan Soufflé. An array of Gulf shrimp, oysters, and triggerfish, and lemon intermingle on the plate and on the palate. The succulent fried mix of seafood is cut with unexpected, bright bursts of acidity and texture from the lovely fried lemon. And with multiple orders, each person’s preference of seafood is easily swapped, an oyster for a shrimp… I steal a few bites myself, although I am not sharing a bite of my parmesan soufflé. The soufflé is typically served with mushrooms, prosciutto, and thyme. But the kitchen is happy to accommodate my mushroom allergy, serving it with enchanting edible flowers instead. Each creamy, velvety bite of this comforting custard melts in the mouth. As always, a sensational soufflé!
For entrees the “boys” including Kev select the New York Strip at three different degrees of doneness. And I double the appetizer of Ravioli Crawfish for an entrée portion. And we pair dinner with two lovely wines: Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2019 and Garnacha “Granito del Cadalso” ‘17 Vinos de Madrid.
Each steak arrives sizzling. And on first cuts, proves to be cooked at perfect individual temps, juicy, and amazingly as tender as a filet. Accompanying the strips are potato gratin, watercress, and ramp butter. I had forgotten how incredible this gratin is. I have made it at home from Bottega’s cookbook in the past. One taste and I realize I need to heat up the oven again. Thin and tender slices of potato are layered and overlapped with cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina. And its topping is golden and bubbly. Need comfort food? Order this.
Bottega’s paper thin ravioli is house made. And it shows. As I cut each bite, my fork easily slides through these tender, cheesy dumplings. A generous catch of the prettiest little crawfish float on its brown butter base and atop each golden round. It is garnished with my favorite herb, fresh dill, adding aromatics and a touch of tang.
We had planned to skip dessert at the restaurant because we have Executive Pastry Chef, Dolester Miles’ famous coconut pecan cake at home, which was Jordan’s early birthday cake. Yet given the recent ravings I have heard about Bottega pastry chef, Mark Christie’s new Eastaboga Burnt Honey Cake, I must have it! And who can turn down a candy bar? So, we all share both desserts. Oh, my! The sweet honey cake arrives in ten layers, and between each layer of cake is a burnt honey dulce de leche frosting. But it does not stop there.
A crust of toasted cake crumbs coat the frosting… to round out this tower of perfection. I typically taste a dessert and leave the rest to “my boys.” Not this cake. One bite leads to another… It is surprisingly light and not too sweet. Yet the burning of the honey and toasting of the outer crust meld together creating a nectarous caramel sensation. Highly recommended! The Bottega Bar is also a must try. I cut through the top of dark chocolate, down through Kahlua mousse, and into the caramel nut base grounded in feuilletine. It melds together beautifully on my fork. On first chocolaty, nutty, caramel bite, I am a kid again. It takes me back to living on my grandparents’ farm, waiting for the peddler to drive up the country road. Only he had candy bars… I will be back for more of both these desserts.
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