One of two outlets for La Bottega Milanese in Leeds, the branch in the Light pre-dates the recently-opened branch in Bond Court. Naturally, this being the Coffee Spot, I visited them in reverse order, first calling into Bond Court before venturing to The Light (which is a shopping and retail centre built around the old headquarters building of the Leeds Permanent Building Society).
The Light itself is a wonderful structure, of soaring brick facades and glass ceilings. La Bottega Milanese occupies a corner spot on the ground floor, just by the escalators up to the cinema. You can sit “outside” on the street without having to worry about being rained on, since it’s all enclosed by a glass ceiling.
If you’ve read my piece on Bond Court, you’ll already be familiar with La Bottega Milanese’s offering. If not, La Bottega Milanese expertly blends Italian espresso tradition with modern, third-wave roasting know-how from Dark Woods (having previously used Grumpy Mule until 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.
For those that are interested, the first La Bottega Milanese was set up by owner and 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, followed three years later by Bond Court.
I popped into The Light after a long day wandering around Leeds on Coffee Spot and Caffeine Magazine duty. I hadn’t intended going there, but I was looking for somewhere to eat and I remembered Alex, who I’d met earlier that day at Bond Court, talking about his plans for offering food there in the evenings, taking what he was doing at The Light as a template. Thinking it would be as good a place as any, I slipped in unannounced and immediately fell in love with the place.
There are two parts to La Bottega Milanese. The shop itself is essentially square, tucked away back from the street, only it’s not really a street. Just to confuse matters, I think it once was a street, Fountain Street, which ran parallel to The Headrow, behind the Leeds Permanent building. Anyway, La Bottega Milanese is on the northern side of the what-ever-it-is, now a glass-ceiling pedestrian walkway which gives access to The Light from Albion Street. The second part, in front of the shop, provides the main seating, separated from the street by a low wall. This gives the feel of an outside terrace while retaining all the advantages of being inside (ie it’s not cold and you don’t get rained on!).
Just as at Bond Court, pride of place goes to a long, high, communal table which runs parallel to the street. This one seats 14, rather than Bond Court’s legendary 26, and behind it is a smaller, eight-seat communal table. Beyond that is La Bottega Milanese itself. The entire shop-front is open, while to the right is a glass wall/window with a three-person bar on the outside looking in. Inside, there’s a narrow corridor on the left with a long, padded bench and a row of seven tables against the left-hand wall, while to the right, the remainder of the space is enclosed by an L-shaped counter. The food is at the front, while the cakes are along the side, the espresso machines and coffee tucked away at the back, behind the counter.
Since I was there in the evening and had already consumed far too much caffeine, I had a very fine decaf flat white. It was rich and creamy, the coffee coming strongly through the milk, which itself was perfectly steamed. The whole ensemble was delightfully smooth.
I also got to sample La Bottega Milanese’s food, plumping for the parmigiana (an aubergine, tomato and parmesan bake). This too was excellent, a very filling dish and just what I needed. A rich tomato sauce was sandwiched between layers of aubergine, topped off by a layer of cheese. It also came with a very tasty side salad.
My only regret was that I didn’t have a chance to sample any of the fabulous cakes on offer, which included meringues, tarts, cheesecakes, patisserie and cannelloni. Quite what led to this oversight, I’m not sure and I’ve scoured my notes for a reason without finding one!
|THE LIGHT • UNIT A11A • THE HEADROW • LEEDS • LS1 8TL|
|www.labottegamilanese.co.uk||+44 (0) 113 2454242|
|Monday||08:00 – 20:00||Roaster||Dark Woods + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 20:00||Seating||Tables, Bar|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 20:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 20:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 21:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 20:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th June 2014|
Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of Leeds’ speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.
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