Bottega reboot

THE Chook’s got an unwritten rule about having a decent gap before restaurants can be re-reviewed, which stops us from hammering favourite eateries within 100 metres of the front door.

Technically speaking my trip to Bottega last week was a no-no as someone beat me to the punch six months ago, but frankly I was starving and the sign advertising braised lamb cutlets as a lunch special ($15) was pulling my belt buckle like a neodymium magnet.

In fact, the cutlets sounded so appealing on a chilly winter’s day that my dining companion also ordered a plate—another black mark on our review.

I’ve been wanting to head into Bottega after doing a photo shoot there not long after it opened. I loved its deli-style feel, with sausages hanging from the roof and fat loaves of bread stacked in the display cabinet.

Originally there was a colourful wall of pickled capsicum jars and other delicacies, but they must have just about sold out, as it’s a bit more muted these days. After the last couple of days everyone’s waiting for spring, and hopefully it’ll also see a new batch of the delicious home-made produce for sale.

At first we were bit taken aback because the lamb cutlets were sitting in a tray in the bain marie, and images of tuck shops and RSL halls sprang to mind.

But it is a mid-week lunch special and most people don’t have the time to hang around waiting for a la carte, so we decided to go ahead.

And lucky we did: the chef must have got a bit tiddly and poured the rest of his wine bottle into the sauce, as it was so rich with fruity flavours you could have hung it from a vine. He’d matched that with enough garlic to give it a Jeff Horn-like punch without the need for a review.

The cutlets themselves were surprisingly tender given they’ve been in a tray, while you got a great choice of vegies. We both went for the mash, but with a final burst of individuality to give the review some diversity, I opted for a green salad while my companion chose the cauliflower cheese.

“It was creamy,” she said, “and while it was a little bland, it did have a cheesiness.”

We finished off sharing a nectarine tart ($6.50), and while I expected the fruit to give it a big bang, it was surprisingly muted—well, they’re not quite in season yet.

A cheesecakey base was well made and lifted it, so it was a reasonable end to the meal, accompanied as it was by an excellent, creamy flat white ($4) and a turmeric latte ($4.50).

by STEVE GRANT

La Bottega
87 Market Street, Fremantle
9335 9193
Open 6.30am each day

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