65 Lower Sloane Street, London, SW1W 8HD
Telephone: 020 7730 8844
I was having a chat with friends recently about food – no surprises there then! – and we were having a bit of a banter about what makes a good meal, which nation’s cuisine we would live off for the rest of our lives if we had to, and I was especially keen to know if any of my friends suffer horrifically from the ruinous effects of over-eating on holiday. Trips to France where I guzzle mountains of bread and cheese and slurp oceans of wine seem to make me feel particularly peculiar, but then not everyone is quite as much of a gannet as I am.
In between learning that America has drive-thru Starbucks and declaring my undying love for noodles (whoah momma I just adore them) we settled upon a basic truth. That if the produce is fresh and the recipe is simple, then the food will sing. On a recent trip to Sicily everything my teeth sunk into – the fresh pasta, the swollen tomatoes, the smooth ice cream, everything but everything tasted sublime. Juicy fresh and bursting with flavour. No amount of seasoning, clever preparation or fancy packaging was necessary. The food was, at times humble, it was often cheap, but it was honest and loved and indecently tasty.
And so I took a trip to La Botegga on my lunchbreak yesterday with a friend – by the way it’s so hard to fill your boots and have a good chinwag in only an hour isn’t it? – and I was in heaven scoffing simple but immensely pleasing Italian fare. I was once told, by my boss, that the sandwiches at La Botegga might just change my life, I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. As bold as the Italian flag – and red, white and green too- my mozarella, pesto and tomato ciabatta was perfect. Fresh chewy bread, plump, ripe tomatoes, creamy cheese and deep, heavy pesto.
It costs a few quid for a pretty small sandwich, and I tend to buy them only as a payday treat or for when I need a pick-me-up, but trust me, they’re worth every penny. The deli itself is lovely too. Small and busy, with tables out front for a leisurely cappuccino on a sunny day, and everything within is fresh and beautiful. The pastries and cakes on the bar look impossible to resist, although resist them I have, so far, and the coffee’s so strong it kicks like a mule.
At La Bottega they do, as I was saying with my friends, decent, proper food and they do it without fuss and without bother. What a treat.