Friday, August 6, 2010

Bottega: A Lunch to Remember in the Wine Country


Every year four girls who mean business drive to the Wine Country with only 3 things in mind: the business of drinking as much wine as liver can allow, business of eating well and business of shopping as long as it does not get in the way of drinking and eating.

The imbibing part is a no brainer when you are in the wine country. It is hard to go wrong with Napa Valley crafted wines. Having lunch at Bottega is another no brainer since you are guaranteed a great gastronomic experience.

DECOR/AMBIANCE: At 2:30 PM last Friday, we walked into Bottega half-tipsy from wine tasting. A classy restaurant with a casual and laid-back vibe. The thoughtfulness of the decorator with the clientele's pleasure in mind is very evident. High ceilings and big windows. The covered patio is perfect for dining while enjoying a beautiful sunny Wine Country's afternoon. Or choose to sit at the thick and heavy tables with bottles of bigger than magnum wine bottles that adorn the table.






CELEBRITY CHEF: We did not have a reservation but we were seated right away at the communal table that remained ours alone during our entire meal. Chef Mark Chiarello was talking to some diners when we walked in but went back to the kitchen right away. Celebrity sighting was good and all but we were there for some serious eating.

DRINKS: We were still buzzed from some fine wines from our tasting but when our server mentioned STRAWBERRY BELLINI, our response was "four. please!" Freshly pureed strawberries mixed with prosecco. So simple but so refreshing.

We were served with a complimentary warm bread with olive oil, garlic and parsley for dipping. We devoured it right away.

APPETIZERS: We went all out for appetizers. We shared:

CALAMARI: Tender and not greasy. Served in its own black ink for dipping.



TRUFFLE FRIES: We had to order these when we saw it delivered at another table piled high on a plate. And no regrets! Delicious guilt-laden deep-fried served with aoili. I don't think it was even on the menu.


INSALATA DE BOSCO: Organic greens, balsamic vinaigrette, sliced pear, candied hazelnuts, Pecorino. Getting this salad actually provided as a catalyst for the fried stuff we were having. Just so light, so earthy, so refreshing.



MAIN: There were four of us and although I did not get to try my girlfiriends' dishes, we were all impressed with our choices. Just like how H put it, "It is hard to get everything to taste right at one place."

It was a great lunch. Very enjoyable. A very pleasurable dining experience.

ADRIATIC SEAFOOD BRODETTO: Monkfish, mussels, rock cod & fresh Monterey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil-crouton in paprika-saffron broth: This is what I ordered. The broth was not heavy which I sometimes find with any tomato based dishes. Teeming with generously cut seafood. Soooo good! I was already so full but I could not stop eating it.



CRISPY POTATO GNOCCHIi with english pea & tallegio fonduta, early spring vegetables, prosciutto crisp.


RAVIOLO: One giant ravioli with eggyolk and sage browned butter parmigiano. Looked like for big comfort food!



RISOTTO WITH CHICKEN.



DESSERT: I don't know where we found the space but we shared:

CHOCOLATE BOURBON TORTINO: Creme Brulee, Banana Gelato and milk chocolate peanut butter bar. This was good but on the heavy side. I preferred the Zeppole.



ZEPPOLE: Meyer Lemon Curd, Black and Blueberry Earl Grey. I found these mini beignets with accompanying sauces to be a great way to end a splendid lunch.



SERVICE: What made our lunch truly remarkable was not just the food but the great team of staff who catered to us during lunch from the server to the busboy who cleared our table. Our brass goblet (nice touch!) of water was never empty.

TAB: $240 for four girls including 4 drinks, 3 appetizers, 4 entrees, 2 desserts and beautiful sunny day full of wine and flowers that wil be remembered for years to come!

FOODIE GIRL'S RANKINGS: 5 Stars

Ambiance and Decor: 5.5 Stars
Service:                       5.5 Stars Stellar!
Food:                            5.0 Stars All dishes were well-executed. Mostly above average. Some were exceptional!

Key:

0 Star: Never again!!! These people should not be in business.
1 Star: Chalk it to bad experience. Live and learn.
2 Stars: Very disappointing but there it has some good things to offer.
3 Stars: It is okay but do not expect much. I will still return.
4 Stars: I like it! I will be singing your praises!
5 Stars: I will be dreaming of you at night!
6 Stars: Perfection (or close to!)


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