I consider myself to be quite organised. On vacations, I like to know roughly what I am doing and where I am each day. I could not possibly have a holiday where I make plans as I go nor would I like to book flights/accommodation at the last minute. The same goes for me when I go out to eat, I like to know that I would have a table at a particular time and not have to wait around for one. Bodega is one of those places that doesn’t take bookings but it’s also one of those places that many people rave on about how fab the food is. So one night my workmates and I decided to rock up to see if we were able to score a table otherwise we were going to go elsewhere since there are so many restaurants nearby.
We started the night off with some bread and olive oil, marinated olives and drinks. There were spanish beers on tap and a decent selection of wines and cocktails. I went for the kaffir lime leaf strawberry caprioska; strawberries were muddled with some kaffir lime leaves, topped with crushed ice, vodka and soda water to provide a concoction that was light and somewhat refreshing. I forgot the name of the other cocktail one of my workmates had but it had rum, sherry and a hint of orange (provided by the orange rind). I had a sip of this and found that it was very alcoholic but it was slightly sweet and warming (like drinking mulled wine without the wine – if that makes sense).
We were quite hungry so when the plate of fried calamari with aioli ($18) came, it was demolised within seconds. Strips of tender calamari pieces were coated with a light crispy batter, sprinkled with smoked paprika and served with a wonderful garlicy aioli. Perfect tapas to start with and have with a few drinks with friends.
What visit to a spanish tapas restaurant would it be if you did not order garlic mushrooms ($12)? The aroma of these babies was intoxicating, it sent me to my happy place. Oh how I loved these big, plump and juicy mushrooms! I could have 5 bowls of these if I wanted to. I could imagine they’d be perfect served with a serving of toasty bread.
There were a few empanadas on offer but we went for the argentinean-style beef empanadas with salsa criolla ($4 each). The pastry was flaky and buttery and encased a wonderful, scrumptious beef filling and the salsa provided a little kick and tang. YUM!
One of Bodega’s signature dishes is fish fingers ($16), which are kingfish sashimi served on garlic toast with cuttlefish ceviche and mojama. I’m not a fan of consuming raw onion as I don’t like the strong onion taste so I was a bit hesitant on trying this dish without pushing the onions to the side seeing as it was packed on each serving. But I had it anyway and found that it was actually nice, I think the addition of lemon must have taken away the raw onion taste. The kingfish was thinly sliced and everything on this dish was light fresh. Probably the most popular dish of the night on our table.
This was a surprisingly great dish as well, the roasted pumpkin and labna salad ($16) had a spicy oil dressing which worked well with the creamy labna and roasted pumpkin. Toasted pine nuts provided a nice crunch and contrast of textures.
Another manditory dish that you have to order is chorizo. The Bodega chorizo with sofito paste ($12) was all that it’s meant to be; smoky, fatty and bloody awesome! The sofito paste was similar to a romesco sauce; nutty and slightly mild.
We were still hungry so we ordered two more dishes, the first of them was a smoked bonito, octopus, fennel and confit potato salad ($20). Bonito tends to be oily and heavy but this was not evident in this dish, there was a lovely smokiness to the fish. The most interesting component in this dish was the octopus, it was so tender that it could be cut with a spoon!
The final dish was corn tamale with black beans and avocado ($20). I was told by the waitress that corn kernels were processed with cheese and semolina to produce a wonderfully creamy corn paste which is poached in its husk before being grilled slightly. I’m also not a fan of beans but I thoroughly enjoyed the black beans that accompanied this dish, they were well seasoned and weren’t too mushy (the main reason why I don’t really like beans). I was quite surprised by this dish as I didn’t really think anything much of it when we ordered it but it was great! I loved the crispy corn chips provided to scoop up all the different components; I think there should have been more it though.
There weren’t that many options for desserts available (I can’t believe there was no churros on the menu). Everyone was feeling quite full by this time but I was still up for more so I choose to get the chocolate pudding with liquorice strawberries and yoghurt sorbet ($14). The chocolate pudding wasn’t dense as I imagined it to be; it was similar to a fondant without the oozy chocolate centre. The strawberries were slightly warm and (luckily) didn’t have a strong liquorice flavour to them, also I think there was a hint of balsamic vinegar in the strawberries. I was surprised to see dill featured in my dessert as well. One of my workmates tried the sorbet before me and she made a funny face as she tried it, making me think it was alcoholic as I forgot what it was suppose to be. It was until I tried it that I realised it was yoghurt flavour, it wasvery tangy and I thought the dessert could skip out on it.
The other dessert ordered was the banana split ($14). Not your average banana split that’s for sure. Bodega’s version included cream flan with ginger biscuit and salted caramel and peanuts, banana cream, dulce de leche ice cream and toasted banana marshmallow. I had a bit of dessert envy and wished to have this all to myself. The flan was creamy and silky smooth, the bitterness of the caramel provided a lovely contrast between flavours. The banana cream had the texture and taste of mashed banana which only had the sweetness provided by the dulce de leche ice cream sitting on top. I really enjoyed the banana marshmallow as it was something unexpected and it was fluffy and gooey.
We all were generally very happy with every dishes that we had (which is a rare occasion as some restaurants have hit and miss dishes); it was pretty hard to choose one stand out dish as everything was fantastic! Service was quick and friendly (this was the first time I’ve been offered to hang my coat up at a restaurant) and the atmosphere was definitely hip and trendy. We were lucky to not have to wait for a table but if you do come here, I can say that the wait is definitely worth it.