In search of a quick bite before a trip to the cinema on a dreary Monday night, we decided to make a pitstop in one of The Light’s many eateries.
It’s a destination that seems to struggle to draw big crowds in the face of so much other competition and I must admit it rarely occurs to me to go there unless I’m catching a film.
New branding – For day and night – is seeking to revitalise the leisure and retail centre, which is home to chains such as Nando’s, Barburrito, Turtle Bay, and Frankie and Benny’s.
But it was independent Italian coffee shop La Bottega Milanese that won our trade, largely due to positive experiences at its sister branch in Bond’s Court.
Most of the seats outside were taken and the same went for inside, an area dominated by glass counters displaying sandwiches, cold drinks and some seriously good looking pastries.
Before we could even take in all the options on offer, the server was ready to take our order and dashed off to catch up on other jobs when we hesitated.
My other half grabbed one of the two remaining tables, tucked right in the corner at the back of the cafe as I waited to order.
As more customers piled in I somehow found myself at the back of the queue and there were apologies all round when this was realised.
Order placed, I took my can of blood orange San Pellegrino to the table and listened out for the call to collect the rest over the general hubbub of a what was a very busy cafe.
The bustling nature of the Bond’s Court site with its large communal tables is all part of the charm and contributes to the lively atmosphere, but in this much smaller space I felt hemmed in as customers waiting to collect drinks stood immediately behind our table.
It made it hard to relax and in future I’ll opt for takeaway if the airier tables near the door or just outside are all taken.
And I would return because the coffee and food that came was still enjoyable and without the hefty price tag of some of the city’s other independents.
My tirolo panino (£3.95) was lovely and crisp on the outside and filled with salty ham, juicy tomato and peppery rocket.
The other half’s latte (£2.70) and lasagne (£5) went down well too, although a little more dressing on the salad would have been welcome.
Finding ourselves with a little time left before the film, we were unable to resist the temptation of the chocolate filled giant cannoli (£2.40 each).
Sweet tooths satisfied, our total bill came to a very reasonable £17.55 and we made our escape as yet more coffee lovers arrived to get their fix from what is clearly a popular spot any day of the week.