MICHELIN STARRED DINING AT LA BOTTEGA DEL BUON CAFFÈ, FLORENCE
Our wedding anniversary meal in Florence this year was quite a special occasion as we dined at the one Michelin-Starred restaurant, La Bottega del Buon Caffè.
Translated literally into English, La Bottega del Buon Caffè means ‘The good coffee shop’ and sits a little way back from the road with a view of the Arno. Don’t be misled by the name, as believe me guys, your imagination and taste buds are in for quite the haute experience.
As Dr C and I walked up the Arno arm in arm to mark the annual celebration we were not disappointed by our first glimpse of La Bottega del Buon caffe. It was lit up beautifully with small fairy lights and stood out on the street. On approach we noticed that there was outdoor seating with beautiful topiary, candles, upholstered seating in neutral accents, enclosed in a classy al fresco setting. The scene was set for a romantic night of dining beneath the tower of San Niccolò.
Upon entry our coats were taken and we were given a fantastically positioned table with large windows and great views of the open kitchens, which I was facing. The restaurant is quite small and intimate, so perfect for this occasion. Candles were lit for the table by the Maitre D and we were introduced to the chef and kitchen staff who all congratulated us on our anniversary!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND, IF I MAY…
The restaurant used to be located outside of the historical centre of Florence, before it took up residence in its current abode. The restaurant has an organic farm in the Tuscan countryside at its country hotel, located near Siena, called Borgo Santo Pietro. The organically cultivated farm produces meat (pigs raised for the table, sheep and lambs, chickens for eggs, bees for honey and also alpacas to start a cottage wool industry) fruit and vegetables, which can sustain the restaurant as well as many jams, jellies, preserves and sauces to be stored. The seasonal menu at the restaurant is led by the farms produce, which includes a unique herb garden and also honey production.
La Bottega del Buon Caffee has a simple and wholesome philosophy. Authenticity and honesty play a huge part in the cuisine in delivering innovative and inspiring cuisine with the ‘farm to plate’ experience. The freshest ingredients from the daily kitchen, cultivated at the restaurant’s farm, whilst other ingredients may come from organic biodynamic farmers. Dishes are made to reflect Florentine gastronomic heritage and seasonality plays a big part, just as well as sustainability. Meats are carefully selected, just as fresh fish is delivered daily from sustainable fisherman from the Mediterranean Sea. A huge nod from Be-lavie with sourcing local and sustainability.
The vaulted ceiling, exposed brick work, crisp white table clothes and stone coloured neutral classic yet contemporary interiors with romantic candlelight and low main lighting created a quite, calm and serene dining environment.
The interior design work was created by renowned interiors designer, Jeanette Thottrup hence the sophisticated attention to detail being very obvious upon entry. It was beautiful in an understated fashion. Beautiful button-back upholstered chairs, interesting art work, the smiles of the staff and then the open kitchen where chef and his team worked effortlessly and calmly with the odd discrete glance from the chef and his team
The head chef at La Bottega del Buon Caffe is Israeli born, Erez Ohayon. He commands his team effortlessly and it was a real pleasure to watch him and his team cook service on the night of our meal.
The unstuffy atmosphere without compromising service meant Chef Erez was able to welcome us to the restaurant and also came over at the end of the meal for a chat.
One of the many reasons we chose to dine at La Bottega del Buon Caffee was due to their Taster menus, which had the option of a Vegetariano Degustazione menu, which was perfect for me. Dr C went for the The Chef’s Choice ( La Selezione dello Chef).
When it comes to wines, the restaurant has an impressive collection of 1100 labels and aims to showcase the big names alongside handpicked artisan producers.
To kick start the celebrations, we toasted with a glass of Rose Champagne and followed this up with the Sommelier, Silvia’s recommendation of a light fruity Italian red.
The meal commenced with a warm melt in the mouth sourdough accompanied with a house blend of three different olive oils and the very tasty crunch from Pane e grissini di nostra produzione (homemade bread sticks).
(Primosale e campagna di Borgo)
Borgo’s first salt soft cheese and field greens
This served as the Amuse Bouche and represented the farm to table concept. A tray of crumb accompanied by a little rake was to be used to dig up the small morsels of flavour packed surprises. The crumb represented soil with vegetables buried underneath such as turnips, tomato and truffle.
Capesanta con porri, mela e fiori di Borgo.
Scallop with leeks, apple and Borgo’s flowers
Topinambur, sambuco e nocciole
Jerusalem artichokes elder flower and hazelnuts (vegetarian)
Crème brûlée di foie gras, sorbetto alla cipolla rossa, fave di cacao, pera e pan brioche
Crème brûlée of foie gras with red onion sorbet, cocoa beans, pear and brioche bread
Risotto alle erbe di campo, kefir di pecora, salsa di limone, mandorle, parmigiano, bottarga.
Risotto with wild herbs, sheep kefir, lemon sauce, almond, parmesan cheese and cured turbot roe
Risotto alle erbe di campo, kefir di pecora, salsa di limone, mandorle, parmigiano. (Vegetarian)
Risotto with wild herbs, sheep kefir, lemon sauce, almond and parmesan cheese
Agnolotti di coniglio alla cacciatora
Agnolotti pasta filled with rabbit hunter style
Uovo con fave, pane croccante ed erbe selvatiche
Borgo’s egg with fava beans, crispy bread and wild herbs (Vegetarian)
Piccione di Poppi frollato nel fieno, asparagi, spugnole e ciliegie
Poppi’s pigeon, smoked breast, asparagus, morels and cherries.
Carciofo, patata, taleggio e rosa canina di Borgo Santo Pietro
Artichoke, potato, taleggio cheese and rose hip from Borgo Santo Pietro (Vegetarian).
The pre-dessert was a lovely chocolate shard delight in a light broth-like sauce.
Our meal ended with a selection of hand made truffles accompanied by candles.
Unstuffy, unpretentious, outstanding dining with attentive but unobtrusive staff who truly make some wonderful recommendations accompanied by friendly conversation. The focus is 100% on the food and kitchen. It truly is a place not to miss out on if you’re visiting for a special occasion. I have no hesitation in recommending La Bottega del Buon Caffè but please ensure you book well ahead to avoid disappointment. According to CN Traveler, La Bottega del Buon Caffè is one of the best restaurants in the world and its very easy to see why this is the case. They say, you never forget a good meal, well I can vouch this is one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in the world to date.
Have you visited Florence and if you so tell me below, what is your favourite restaurant that I need to put on my next trip…
La Bottega del Buon Caffè
Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 69/R
Tel. +39 055 55 35 677
Reservation can be made through La Bottega del Buon Caffe’s website