La Bodega Negra brought to London by the New York restaurateur, “cultural engineer” and nightclub owner Serge Becker is certainly a welcome addition to London’s food and drinks scene and has taken the London foodie world by storm. We all like places that are relaxed, reasonably priced and serve a mean margarita, right?
There are 2 Bodega Negras, of which one is a Cafe and Taqueria (this is the one I went to and which is reviewed here) and the Restaurant. As far as I understand, these two are in the same building, just one (the restaurant) with an entrance to Old Compton Street and the other one opening on Moor Street.
La Bodega Negra is a very charming place indeed. It consists of central bar area surrounded by blue bar stools which definitely invite to sit down, drink and linger. The black and white tiled floor and the tiled walls contributes to a Mexican atmosphere without appearing tacky, and parts of the walls are plastered with colourful Mexican posters. It feels very hip without trying to hard.
The food was, although enjoyable, not as convincing as atmosphere and drinks.
The Heart of Palm Salad (8.5) was a nice and wholesome, consisting of mixed fresh leaves, palm hearts in slices and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Very lovely was the Tostada with Tuna Chipotle (3), with the raw tuna, avocado and jalapeno peppers bedded on a crisp toasted tortilla.
I admired the presentation of a very small dish on a very big plate…
Taqueria is the Spanish/Mexican word for Taco shop, and indeed there are plenty of Tacos on the menu (you can choose between 6 different ones). 3 tacos come for Â£6 and when you add beans and rice, this adds up to Â£10.5.
We asked the waiter for his taco recommendation and he suggested for us to try the Al Pastor Roasted Pineapple. This might no have been the wisest choice. The filling (or is it topping?) was lukewarm with the pork underseasoned and together with the fresh pineapple this dish was too sweet and didn’t do it for me. More green sauce would have gone a long way and adding the spicy condiment that was on our table, almost saved the dish. The rice however was great – light and fluffy and infused with fresh coriander. The beans with chorizo again lacked seasoning and kick. The chorizo tasted boring and the sauce could have done with some chilli or at least salt.
Even though I was not blown away by the food, my impression of La Bodega Negra was a largely positive one. I can see myself meeting a friend there at 5pm and falling out of the door at 11pm after having had a great time, with my blood containing more tequila than haemoglobin. I am intrigued to try the La Bodega Negra restaurant as well, which is more expensive than the cafÃ© but has a more extensive menu.
- Food: 6/10
- Ambiance: 9/10
- Service: 6/10
- Value for Money: 7/10
- Chances of Returning: 90%
- Verdict: Pleasant Mexican staples beyond quesadillas and sour cream and excellent margaritas!