What better way to explore the world and expand your horizons than through food?
After some intensive research and frantic emails and phone calls exchanged in order to try to get a table for one at some of the most exciting looking locations, I ended up going to four different Michelin starred restaurants in four different cities within 10 days. I know–what more could a person ask for in life?
La Bottega del Buon Caffe came up again and again as I researched things to do in Florence, Italy, and they were able to squeeze me in one of the nights I was in the area. I was already excited based on what I saw on the website before going, but oh my lord was it ever worth it.
When I go to a restaurant (particularly a nicer restaurant) there are a handful of things I am looking for in order to determine whether it is a good destination or not. I’m going to give you a little overall review, but feel free to keep scrolling and get to all the beautiful food pictures. (You may want to go grab a snack, because I promise reading this will make you hungry).
Ambiance: 5/5 Very relaxed and comfortable while still being a formal and nice restaurant. A partially open cuisine allowed the Chef to observe the clients and the clients to get a glimpse of what was happening in the kitchen.
Taste: 5/5 Amazing. There were a lot of flavor pairings that were unique or risky but were pulled off to perfection.
Volume/balance/pace: 5/5 It is hard to eat 12 courses and not be overwhelmingly full–but they managed to keep everything to a proper size and timing so that I was the perfect amount of content as I left the restaurant.
Chef interaction and involvement: 4/5 The Chef was very present in the kitchen–observing all of his staff and doing most if not all of the plating, and also kept an eye on the pace and satisfaction of the customers.
Service: 5/5 Every member of the service staff spoke English with me, explained everything in great detail, and seemed genuinely interested on my thoughts on each of the dishes–especially after they discovered I was studying French Pastry–which also prompted one of the servers to run and talk with the Chef, and collectively they decided to give me an entire extra dessert course for free because they thought I would really enjoy it.
Uniqueness and creativity: 5/5 Duck paté disguised as a cherry tomato? Deconstructed cheesecake that looked nothing like a cheesecake but tasted like the best cheesecake in the entire world? No more words needed..
Overall satisfaction: 5/5 If you are in Florence and don’t go to this restaurant, you are making a mistake you will regret for the rest of your life.
My introduction to the restaurant came with a wasabi cream topped rice chip
I chose the tasting menu because obviously. Who doesn’t want a million courses of deliciousness?
Breadsticks to eat and as table decor
Duck paté covered with tomato juice jelly and Smoked salmon with points of lemon cream and herbs
Truffle and parsley crumble and choux filled with seasonal mushroom cream
Bread: chestnut/honey/nuts, natural 24 hour rising, local foccicia
Perfect egg on top of a pumpkin purée topped with fried leeks and a demi sphere of herb truffle butter on the side which melted as it was brought to the table since the plate was heated
Veal tongue and shrimp from Sicily on top of a masala wine reduction and topped with a celery foam–points of celery and pepper –> I’m not a celery person, but a bite with all ingredients was quite nice, though I could have done without the points of celery
Organic green pepper purée topped with goat cheese risotto and smoked eel and fennel greens
Pasta filled with pigeon and thyme butter sauce
Final savory dish: lamb shank with full purée, dill powder, Caramelized onions and a goat cheese cream–once again recommended to eat all together in one bite
Pre dessert: pear sorbet on a cinnamon and pear jelly with oat and nougat (separate) crumbles and a single point of licorice sauce–I was surprised to find that the licorice was what brought the whole dish together. Sure it was good on its own and had the flavors of fall, but it was the small small amount of licorice that brought it to the next level
“Cheesecake” with mango sorbet, crust crumble, chocolate crumble, passion fruit points, and somehow warm points of cream cheese. It didn’t look like a cheesecake, but omg did it taste like one! Also this was not part of my menu, but I told my waiter that I was studying to be a pastry chef, which totally got me extra dessert ^_^
Sacher Austrian “cake” with two layers of sable, chocolate sauce, a chocolate sponge with some gold dust on a point of gianduja cream, next to chocolate crumble with an apricot sorbet. The apricot was the perfect cold/fresh/bright on the plate and was unexpected enough to bring it to the next level
Constantly in this meal there was a relatively ordinary dish brought to the next level by one carefully thought out simple element that didn’t come across as pretentious or as trying too hard–it was simple high class Italian comfort food
Mignardise: thyme and dark chocolate, rosemary milk chocolate with sea salt, white chocolate hazelnut nougat –> trio of truffles, shocking because this was literally and idea I had–drawn out and dated in my sketch book–that I considered when chef asked me to create the next mignardise :O (I guess I’m not as original as I sometimes like to think I am 😛 )
An incredible night at an incredible restaurant. I hope you enjoyed looking through all my pictures! Come back soon for more kitchen and travel adventures.