By Emma Dooley
Bottle Cafe and Bistro is an Italian restaurant tucked away on a side street in downtown Gwangju, and thought by many to be the best Italian in town.
Having been there a couple of times now, I have to agree. The menu is extensive and diverse, and includes everything from soups and salads to pizzas and risotto. I have visited Bottle for both lunch and dinner and there are a couple of big selling points.
Their sandwiches are amazing. It is extremely difficult to find a decent sandwich in Gwangju, but the one I had in Bottle was delicious, and made perfect by the fact that it was served on lightly toasted, homemade, wholemeal seed bread. While it was not the club sandwich advertised by the menu, it was still very tasty, using real bacon and a lovely honey mustard dressing.
The salads are not drowned in the yogurt dressing so ubiquitous in Korea, but drizzled lightly in oil and vinegar. In addition to bread, Bottle also makes their own drinks: the lemonade and orangeade are pricy, but to die for. There is also quite a substantial wine list and they even serve the Italian beer Peroni to complete the Italian experience!
Best of all though, Bottle serve homemade desserts, a definite rarity in Gwangju. There are several options, from chocolate brownies to affogato, and they will also make large versions to cater for parties.
Second only to the food at Bottle is the ambience. Bottle is decorated in an eclectic style, full of ornaments and mismatched furniture. It’s a look that could come off as pretentious but, at Bottle, it really works. The staff is friendly and helpful and the service was prompt and attentive. Another bonus is that the entire menu is in English, so ordering is a breeze.
While a meal in Bottle is perhaps not as easy on the wallet as a trip to your local Kimbab Nara, if you want to enjoy simple food, cooked well, in a relaxing setting, then Bottle is definitely worth a visit, whether for lunch, dinner or just cake and coffee.
How to get there: Take any bus going downtown and get off at the YMCA. Walk past Starbucks until you come to a crossroads with a Mini Stop on your right. Walk through the crossroads and Bottle will be on your left, on the second floor, after about 200m.
Details: Bottle is open from 12noon to 1.30am on weekdays and 12noon to 12midnight on weekends. There is free wi-fi. You can contact the restaurant at 062-227-9002
Cost: Lunch: two sandwiches, an orangeade and a lemonade cost 30,000won. Dinner: spaghetti carbonara, roast chicken with risotto, a beer and a lemonade cost 37,000won.