La Bottega Milanese, The Light

A flat white from La Bottga Milanese in Leeds. The coffee is in a white, tulip cup with the words "La Bottga Milanese" written on the inside of the rim, with the cafe's logo on the front.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!

June 2020: I heard the sad news that La Bottega Milanese has had to close its espresso bar at The Light, although Bond Court is still going strong.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • La Bottega Milanese, as seen from ground level within The Light.
  • Alternatively, you might be coming down the escalators from the cinema.
  • The 'outside' seating...
  • ... seen here looking out from La Bottega Milanese.
  • The larger of the communal tables in detail...
  • ... and its smaller companion.
  • There's also this little bar to the right-hand side.
  • A rather bad photo of the front of the counter taken from my seat outside...
  • ... and an even worse one of the interior seating!
  • Some of the tables inside.
  • Light bulbs!
  • Moka pots!
  • Right, down to business. The food is traditional Italian: parmigiana & lasagne..
  • ... plus meat balls with pasta.
  • There is also a good selection of soft drinks out front by the food.
  • The cake, meanwhile is, quite sensibly, kept safely inside.
  • So many cakes... And I didn't have any!
  • More cakes in detail. I'm still confused by the fact I didn't have any. How did that happen?
  • More of the cakes I didn't have.
  • There is also beer, cider and wine.
  • Details of the various drinks...
  • ... and the more comprehensive hot drinks menu.
  • There are also retail bags of coffee, plus kit to take away.
  • Lots and lots of the house blend.
  • Dubious choice of reading material though!
  • The all-important espresso machine...
  • And grinders. That's a lot of grinders!
  • Details of the coffee...
  • Guest blend to the left, house to the right.
  • I'll leave you with my lovely decaf flat white...
  • ... and my excellent parmigiana with side-salad.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

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 +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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6 thoughts on “La Bottega Milanese, The Light

  1. Pingback: La Bottega Milanese, Bond Court | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. I could only conclude you were blinded by choice. I fear I too would be: tiramisu?(booze!) Baci di dama? THAT CHOCOLATE ONE? Oooh! A tarta di santiago? I can’t call it. And I didn’t even spot the cannoli!
    *pulls hair out in handfuls*

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  4. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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