La Botte - good (not about the wine or the corkage)
So I went twice in the last week to La Botte on the sw corner of 7th and Lincoln in Santa Monica.
the food was marvelous. I didn't go as a wine explorer - two different meals.
First - I was the youngest at this meal - five of us.
Appetizers - we got the homemade duck prosciutto for the table as well as the raw thin-sliced artichokes and celery salad. refreshing, tasty, light, wonderful. Two of us had the fava bean puree soup - also fantastic - (this was dinner). The soup comes with a crostino read crouton floating on the soup and bearing a clove of roasted garlic in camicia- wearing a shirt - i.e unskinned.
Next - three of us had the cassunziei all'ampezzana - specialty of cortina d'ampezzo whence comes the owner. Half-moon filled pasta stuffed with sweet roasted minced red beets and stuffed (or garnished couldn't tell) with poppy seeds and definitely butter parmesan and perhaps sage?. They also make this at 3 venezie in pasadena, and a restaurant in brooklyn, al di la, also serves it.
savory and rich. Two of us split the braised lamb shank (close to a brasato nel barolo, but lamb not beef) fantastic.
dessert - we split a crema di vaniglia, lighter than a panna cotta, with a great homemade (but of course0 caramet sauce, (the one diabetic among us had a nice bowl of berries they put together), an order of barretti di cioccolatta, homemade "chocolate bars" with layers of hazelnut, dark chocolate, and a kind of mousse. Yes, as good as that. And an order of baked profiteroles stuffed with house-made "nutella". One bottle of the cheaper nebbiolo, a coffee and a caffe latte - all told $270 or so with tax, before tip.
So muchso that I went back on Wednesday for lunch with out of town guests (and their 11 year old daughter) who said it was one of the best meals they had in town (New yorkers).
The meal - got the duck prosciutto again as well as the regular green laden salad. I got he cassunziei this time, one of us got a special, raviolini with veal ragu' and summer black truffles grated at table (from umbria, these aren't tartuffi from alba), one had ravioli stuffed with braised filet mignon and a fantastic sauce, and the young girl had the taglioilini with a bolognese. the textures of the paste were textbook good.
The desserts came next. We just ordered the barretti and the crema di vaniglia, but they were very sweet (maybe because of the young girl) and just brought out on the house (don't expect it, folks) an order of the semifreddo made with amaretti and an amazing (seriously) ricotta cheesecake loaded with bits of candied orange peel. My friend who says he really doesn't like ricotta cheesecake went apeshit over this one - said of course it was the best he'd ever had.
Now I know that people here moaned about the policy of no wine from your cellars, and the markup was high. I don't go through multiple (more than two) wines in a restaurant meal, and I'm happy to try their stuff. The wine list is expensive, but I dont' care. The food is fantastic, the attitude friendly, the place a bit dark at night - but at lunch time it was nicely lit and uncrowded which isn't good for them, but great for us.
Other recomendations, next time you go:
The carpaccio di branzino e ricci di mare (uni). It feels like a hint of ocean which is great after a day spent out at SM's beaches. The cut of the branzino and the layering of flavours is beautiful. It's plated with the white, translucent slivers of branzino overlapping like fish-scales across the plate with small dabs of golden uni spotted to each slice of fish.
The quaglia all griglia con uva, finocchi brasatie e frise. This quail is so good that I've had them make it into a main course for me at Piccolo (sister -- technically mother restaurant to Wilsons in CC and La Botte.) However, La Botte has usually made this dish better than Piccolo. Also, I think grapes should be used more often in cooking and sometimes they have a special of risotto with champagne grapes that is fantastic.
Finally, a recommendation for a main... tagliolini rossi con salsiccia di quaglia e salsa di parmigiano. Their house-made red beet pasta is great and the house-made quail sausage is just as good. The parmesan cheese sauce just makes a meat/pasta dish even richer and creamier. This is a really hearty dish if the weather's been cold.
As for dessert... you've found my favourite with the torta di ricotta.
If there was a place for improvement at La Botte, it would be the bread -- which I find lackluster.
at dinner there was a choice of three breads - but yes, none too great.
I forgot - the dinner menu above with the price INCLUDED a quail that I ordered just tomake sure that the cassunziei eaters would get a little protein. One person passed - so we quartered the quail for the rest of us AND again
the ricotta cake - out of this world - and we live here in the world of agrumi. so the minced Scorze d'arancia candite - the best.