Ben Franks: Spotlight on Sotto Sotto
The restaurant scene in Bath is full of amazing venues and it’s never been easier to get excited about quality food here. However, the restaurant that stands out against them all is Sotto Sotto. While you do have to book at least a month in advance (they’re very popular), when you arrive the service is exceptional, the food is delicious and the wine list is music to my heart strings.
My better half and I recently managed to get a table there for our anniversary and we decided to go all out for the evening. I have a habit of wanting to choose my wine with my food, which means these days when the waiter comes to ask if we would like drinks I’m often caught out. However in Sotto Sotto we had plenty of time to relax into the atmosphere, we were topped up with tap water and even received a handwritten note and a handshake to celebrate our three year anniversary.
Feeling welcomed and settled, I fancied starting with the Bruschetta Classica but also trying their special start Carrot and Red Pepper Soup. Both came with homemade Tuscan bread and, while different textures, they both had that fresh flavour that really demands acidity in a wine. I quickly scanned the main meals and thought ahead to a plate of Orecchiette con spinaci e salsiccia – which is a delicious pasta dish featuring spicy Italian sausage, hat-shaped pasta, spinach, garlic, fresh chilli, croutons and olive oil.
The best option to go with these three courses for me was a bottle of Morellino di Scansano, Il Grillesino 2014. I chose this Tuscan, medium-full bodied red wine because Tuscan reds, made from Sangiovese, classically have a touch higher acidity in the mouth, they go great with food, and, when young, are bursting with juicy cherry fruit.
When I received the bottle I was even more surprised. For a start, despite the warmth in the restaurant, the wine wasn’t warm (so many restaurants are serving reds lukewarm which can make them too juicy and the alcohol too obvious), but more importantly the wine was far more complex than its origin had lead on. Not only were there classic Sangiovese notes of cherry, a higher acidity and a gentle touch of light oak but also some spicy blackberry flavour that reminded me of Rhone Valley Syrah, which I love!
While the Bruschetta was quite sharp and could have gone better with a white wine like Trebbiano or Arneis, the Morellino di Scansano was beautiful alongside the soup and especially with the pasta dish. The light spice of the pasta matched the cherry fruit and enhanced the spiciness in the wine as well. If you visit Sotto Sotto I would highly recommend the pairing.
Before dessert, as a side note, I think it’s worth mentioning my girlfriend is a vegetarian and there’s always plenty on the menu for her to enjoy. So don’t let me meat talk put you off!
We’re not too exciting on the dessert front but we love Sotto Sotto’s gelato ice-cream and sorbets. They’re delightful. We chose to share a bowl of peach sorbet, blackberry sorbet, and coffee ice-cream. A bizarre mix of flavours but nonetheless delicious and all the more enhanced by a chocolate sauce squiggle reading “Happy Anniversary”.
Hats off to you, Sotto Sotto. You never fail to leave us with a smile and a long list of reasons to come back.
I’m always on the look-out for new wine lists to try and I’m here to help any restaurant or pub who think their wine list needs a seasonal update. For more information or to get in touch about some more of my favourite wine & dine destinations, call Ben Franks Wine on +44(0)7545353147.
Images © Copyright Ben Franks Wine 2016