Spot Review: Bottega Louie

Posted by Glenn Gritzner on March 31, 2009

Hey there, folks. You may have walked by the southeast corner of 7th & Grand and seen signs announcing the arrival of Bottega Louie for what seems like years now – and it has literally been 3 years in the making.

Well, today they opened their doors for the first time and, of course, your trusty correspondent was there and got the full tour. The grand opening is next Monday – this week is more of a soft “friends and family” opening.

First impression: Downtown has never seen a place like this.

For those who don’t what it is – and I didn’t – it’s a combination gourmet shop, bar, and restaurant. Below are my opening day thoughts.

First, the space is impressive. Vaulted ceilings, space galore, an alluring array of delectable items inviting you in, a simple-but-elegant bar, and an open, busy kitchen. The restaurant has 185 seats – and only takes up half the space.

Second, the prepared foods and gourmet items are a godsend. Downtown denizens who have been depending on Ralphs for their “grab and go” needs now have more, and more interesting, options – and at a more central location. I didn’t get to sample them, but the food certainly looks impressive.

Third, this place spent money and it shows. Starting with the food. The baked goods start arriving at 6:30 am and get replenished throughout the day. The back counter has more elaborate baked goods – eclairs and the like – and has enclosed, refrigerated marble to keep them cool. The coffee is LaMill. They took two years to perfect their pizza dough. And so on. And then you look around you, and you notice the incredibly elaborate crown molding. The brass inlays that took 15 months to complete. The pillars and columns and wood and marble that come throughout the interior. If an expense was spared, I couldn’t tell where.

Fourth, the variety is incredible. The cheeses are diverse and interesting. The wines are different and will rotate. The menu is large but not unwieldy. The prepared foods run the gamut.

Finally, of course I had to ask what they were doing with their bar, and I was impressed. This is the kind of place that could easily get away with wine, beer, and the ‘basics’, targeted at the after work crowd. But even here, they’ve thought it through. The bar will start with smoothies and juices in the morning. But once they transition to a real bar (at 11 am!), they will serve classic cocktails! I was offered a “38 degree Manhattan” – a Manhattan served at the optimal temperature of 38 degrees, as determined by an actual thermometer. They are stocking real spirits, ordered by someone who knows what they’re doing.

And perhaps the most exciting potential they have is that, at least according to Jameson who made me the aforementioned Manhattan (and who comes from legendary New York spot Milk and Honey), they will work seamlessly with the kitchen, which is probably 10 feet away. If they want grilled pineapples, the kitchen will grill them pineapples. If they want particular fruits or herbs, they will get ordered. It’s relatively rare that a place doing these kinds of cocktails has access to the range of ingredients offered by a place that’s also a restaurant AND a gourmet shop. We’ll see if they realize that potential, but the fact that it is there has real possibility.

I only had the charcuterie (which was excellent), so I can’t vouch for the quality of the food … yet. I’ll keep you posted – and feel free to comment if you get the chance to eat there.

But based on an initial foray into this exciting new place, Downtown has taken yet another step forward. Stay tuned for more…