La Bottega Milanese on Bond Street is one of those establishment which seem to thrive in city centres, perfectly at home amid the concrete jungle, enrobed in cosmopolitan charms of post-industrial architecture.
Think exposed brick walls which look like they could do with a paint (but are actually meant to look like that - it’s part of the vibe), chunky wooden tables mixed with functional high-seat plastic chairs in the centre of the room, where diners convene for what is a communal experience, for there are no individual tables here, so it’s more than likely you’ll find yourself sitting opposite, or next to, a complete stranger. That’s part of the vibe too and there’s no doubting it fits snugly with modern living trends, especially in the city, where people are used to nipping in for a quick bite to eat while they ogle their iPhone or stare blankly at the world while listening to music on headphones.
The only privacy (of sorts) to be had here is at the low counter which runs around the edge of the room and when we visit on a Sunday seems to be dominated by student types all working at laptops, while sipping posh coffees and occasionally munching on something.
These hermit crab cafes seem to be able to make a go of it pretty much anywhere and there’s no doubting La Bottega is popular. The fayre here consists of easy eats, with pre-made lasagne, pesto pasta, soups, pastries and coffees every which way.
Service is slick, efficient, if not a little noisy - the man working the coffee machine made me jump at least twice by barking orders out to customers who had presumably gone to nab a seat.
We managed to grab four chairs on the main table, squeezing in between the unknowns to either side, where we consumed decent-sized slabs of lasagne with a balsamic-dressed salad (£5), plus a pesto pasta (£4.50) and a carrot and onion soup (£2.95) for the kids. Three diet cokes at a pound apiece and a black coffee at £2.40 went with.
Afterwards, we decided to sample some of the miniature morsels from the visually enticing desserts counter, mostly filled pastries. There were two chocolate-filled muffins at £2.45 a throw and a ‘trio pasticcini’, which was ultimately disappointing, consisting of mini pastry shells (far too dry), filled with milk chocolate spread, white chocolate and pistachio, but for £2.50 what do you expect?
The final bill came to a snip over £30. It was pleasant enough and watching the skater dudes practise their flips outside (with varying degrees of success) was entertaining but ultimately, it’s functional and part of ubiquitous city life.
Address: La Bottega Milanese, Bond St, Leeds LS1 2JZ