The Boastful Baker

because every cook praises her own broth

If there’s duck on the menu, I’m probably going to order it.

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Bottega menu

Bottega menu cover

We went to Yountville while on our honeymoon and didn’t eat a meal at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. Instead we had Italian at Bottega. And I got to eat duck, one of my most favorite meats.

As previously mentioned, we opted not to eat at The French Laundry well in advance of the trip, Ad Hoc was closed while we were in the area and we cancelled our dinner reservation at Bouchon. The day after the cancelled reservation, we went to Yountville with the intention of eating lunch at Bouchon and picking up some Bouchon Bakery goodies for our drive to Monterey. But once we were actually in Yountville, it was decided that we would much rather eat lunch at Bottega instead.

Bottega is Michael Chiarello‘s newish Italian restaurant, located just across the street from Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery. As we discovered on this trip, Joel far and away prefers Italian food to French food, so Bottega was an easy choice. That and I’ve adored Michael Chiarello for years as I used to rabidly watch his PBS show about 10 years ago. I have to admit that the idea of eating at his restaurant jazzed me up way more than the Thomas Keller restaurants did.

Lunch at Bottega was without question one of the best meals of our honeymoon. Obviously a large part of that was the suberb food. But part of it was also the atmosphere of the restaurant and the service.

My advice: do yourself a favor and eat at Bottega if you’re in the Napa Valley on vacation. And while you’re at it, get the confit duck if it’s on the menu. It might be pricy for a lunch entree but it was completely worth it.

A few more details about our meal are shown with the images below. Because we were there for lunch, I didn’t feel bad taking more than a few pictures of our meal. And at some point, our server started playing along as well and insisted on helping me set up one or two shots.

Salt at Bottega

Salt cellar at Bottega

The salt at Bottega is served in delightful little ceramic pots with tiny spoons. And water is served in gorgeous hammered copper and stainless steel cups. Chiarello’s Napa Style website sells them but they are absurdly expensive. Don’t look at them because you’ll want them but won’t be able to believe the price.

Joel getting bread at Bottega

Breaking bread at Bottega

Bread was served on the table with a yummy olive oil, herb and Parmesan cheese mixture. I think we may have asked for more bread.

Bottega menu

Menu

Bread at Bottega

Crusty bread

Olive oil with Parmesan and herbs at Bottega

Olive oil with Parmesan and herbs

Sausage tortellini at Bottega

Sausage tortellini

Joel ordered a pasta dish, currently described on their menu as “Calabrian Sausage & Lemon Ricotta Tortellini spicy broccoli rabe, tomato-pork jus & mosto oro olive oil.” It was delicious, even if I did only get to try a little bit since Joel wanted it all to himself. (Not that I was willing to share much of my duck.)

Panettone bread pudding at Bottega

Panettone bread pudding

My entree was “Confit of Half Duck mostarda di frutta, panettone bread pudding, red wine duck jus.” The Panettone bread pudding was marvelous. I’ve never much cared for Panettone as I don’t really like the candied fruit that’s in it and I think it’s kind of dry. But if you turn it into a savory bread pudding, it’s wonderful. I wanted more.

Confit duck at Bottega

Confit duck!

Confit duck! Confit duck! Confit duck! I have to admit that this was probably the most expensive lunch dish I’ve ever ordered, but I don’t care. It was that good. But when is confit duck not good?

I truly love duck and really will almost always order it if it’s on a menu and not served with something completely gross. Fortunately it was served with nothing gross at Bottega and it was sooooo delicious. I’m also lucky that Joel isn’t as big a fan of duck as I am as we never have to fight over who gets to order the duck at a restaurant. I just have to share a couple of bites.

Spilled salt at Bottega

Spillage. Gorgeous, dramatic spillage.

In the middle of our meal, the table next to us was reset with fresh, crisp white paper and a new salt pot. As the busser walked away, he jostled the table and knocked over the salt pot. And I couldn’t help but take a photo of it as I was already enamored with the salt pot.

As I was taking the photo, our waitress came up and was a little shocked that I was taking a photo of the spilled salt. She even asked, “You’re not going to put that on Yelp are you?” I laughed and let her know there was no chance of me saying anything negative about the restaurant on Yelp.

You can't really tell but our waitress is still drizzling chocolate in this picture.

Profiteroles being drizzled with chocolate

I think these might have been tiramisu profiteroles. If they weren’t, they were still fantastic – mostly because of the chocolate sauce. You can’t really tell in the picture but our waitress is actually drizzling it on for the photo’s benefit.

Profiteroles at Bottega

Profiteroles

Dessert's done

All gone.

4 Comments

  1. I couldn’t resist the “tease” to check out the price on the salt cellars, but lo, and behold, I cannot find the salt cellars on their website! Help!

  2. wow what a review! I look forward to learning more about individual chefs and eating some amazing food in CA!

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