Bringing the best of Milanese espresso bar culture to Leeds might be one way of describing La Bottega Milanese. However you care to describe it though, there’s a distinctly modern, Italian feel to the new branch of La Bottega Milanese on Bond Court, which I was fortunate enough to visit back in June, a few weeks after it opened.
Compared to the intimate charm of, say, Laynes Espresso (before it’s expansion in 2017), or the brick-and-wood grandeur of Mrs Atha’s, La Bottega Milanese is a different kettle of fish entirely. It also doesn’t have a basement! On the other hand, few can boast a 26-seat communal table, which is clearly the pride and joy of owner, Alex, nor do they have the generous outside seating that Bond Court affords La Bottega Milanese.
La Bottega Milanese blends Italian espresso tradition with modern, third-wave roasting know-how to produce a really lovely cup of coffee courtesy of local roasters, Grumpy Mule (although La Bottega has now switched roasters to Dark Woods at the start of 2016). The food’s pretty decent too: in the morning, pastries and other breakfast goodies, replaced at lunch by sandwiches and salads, which in turn give way to cake in the afternoon. Finally, come evening, there are small plates, tapas and beer/wine. Truly a café for all occasions!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Bond Court looks to be a delightful setting for this, the third branch of La Bottega Milanese. I say looks, since it was a little bit of a building site when I was there (although nowhere near enough of one to put you off from visiting). The square, just north of Leeds station, is currently under-going major redevelopment and the arrival of La Bottega Milanese is playing an important role in making it a major urban space and a destination in its own right.
For those that are interested, the first La Bottega Milanese was set up by Milanese native, Alex, in 2009. By all accounts it was small (“a cupboard”) and is long-gone, although Kapow Coffee, in some ways its spiritual successor, has since opened a few doors from the original site. In 2011, Alex opened what he terms the North’s first late-night Espresso bar in The Light. Then, this summer, La Bottega Milanese moved into Bond Court.
Situated on the ground-floor corner of a modern office block on the eastern side of the square, the first thing that strikes you about La Bottega Milanese is the considerable expanse of outdoor seating, typical on continental Europe, but quite rare for the UK. Stepping inside, the café is effectively ‘L’-shaped, with the door at the heel of the L. Windows run to your right and all along the wall to your left, stretching the length and breadth of La Bottega Milanese, making it extremely bright inside. These are lined by long bars, complete with bar stools (on the left) and high-backed chairs (on the right). To your right, the bulk of the bottom part of the L is taken up with the food counter, a wonderful array of goodies, constantly changing to suit the time of day. Directly ahead of you, Alex’s pride and joy, the 8 metre long, 26-seat communal table, runs up the centre of the top of the L. This too is lined by high-backed chairs.
There are a couple of other “seating” options. Between the communal table and the food counter are a pair of a standing-room only tables, while right at the back, at the top of the L, are two two-person tables, La Bottega Milanese’s best option if you want an intimate space.
All that remains is the coffee. This is provided by a pair of shiny Kees van der Westen Mirage Veloce espresso machines (although, in fairness, I’ve yet to see a Kees van der Westen machine that isn’t extremely shiny) which are towards the back on their own counter on the right-hand side. The house-blend is now from Dark Woods, located in the West Yorkshire Pennines. This is supported by a regularly-rotating guest espresso, from an array of roasters, including local boys North Star, while there’s bulk-brew filter, with hand-pour filter on Sundays, when the pace is more relaxed. On the last Sunday of the month, La Bottega Milanese hosts free coffee-cuppings.
I tried the split shot, substituting a flat white for the more traditional cappuccino. As a straight espresso, I loved the house-blend, finding it smooth and dark, with a touch of bitterness, reminiscent of old school espresso at its best. It’s a great all-round coffee, also going well in milk, which is rare. In the flat white, it was very smooth, although I’d have preferred a double shot or perhaps a piccolo to let the coffee come through a little more.
|2 BOND COURT • LEEDS • LS1 2JZ|
|www.labottegamilanese.co.uk||+44 (0) 113 2454242|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Dark Woods + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Bar, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:30||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th June 2014|
You can see what fellow coffee blogger Alison made of La Bottega Milanese.
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Leeds’ speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.
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