I have been going to Bodega long before I started this blog, which I suppose is a recommendation in itself. I can’t say it’s ever been my favourite place to eat, but my girlfriend clearly enjoys it, which leaves me with little choice. To me its unique to Birmingham, though only because the second city doesn’t have a Wahaca on every corner like London. If Wahaca is specific to Mexico in its approach, Bodega takes a broader stroke to South America with familiar dishes like burritos along with the less common banderillas and cordero seco. And shame on you for skiving off Peruvian classes at school if you don’t know what cordero seco is.
I leave the girlfriend at home and take a much more ear friendly approach with my friend. Even on a cold Tuesday evening the place is full and the service is warm. It has a casual feel, with colourfully decorated walls and low lighting. We settle on a selection of small plates with the intention of sharing – a notion that upsets me just thinking about it. First up is probably the best dish of the night; a grease-less deep-fried soft shell crab, paired intelligently with a lime mayo and pineapple salsa that offer comfort and a little sharpness which both work well with the crustacean. The pineapple salsa showed up again on a plate on halloumi, the cheese griddled carefully though not an obvious match to the salsa.
Tapas staple of chorizo with peppers and a red wine sauce was next. Here the quality of the cured sausage was better than most, even if the sauce wasn’t reduced to the syrupy consistency that I would like. At its best it should gloss the meat like a lick of paint, not run all over the plate. Following this was the only time they got it really wrong. Papas chorreadas was a mixture of potatoes, tomatoes and onion which was lost under a thick ooze of what tasted like powdered cheese sauce which quickly became a unpleasant mix of nothingness
Chicken quesadillas is a dish I’ve eaten a million times. Here was a good example; large chunks of poultry flavoured with chipotle and comforted with melted cheese. A similar success was had with the pulled pork tacos, which had good meat at its core and was accurately cooked. Much like everyone else in the country I’ve eaten a lot of pulled pork in the last twelve months – these taco’s will be remembered more fondly than the vast majority.
The bill, with a couple of pints of Brahma, came in about a twenty quid a head. Here, perhaps, is the key to Bodega’s obvious success; no one leaves Bodega feeling short-changed. The food features ingredients of good quality for the price paid – certainly a lot worse can be had for more money in a close vicinity. There are times when rich food and dainty portions become too much and what you go looking for is a healthy feed at a sound price. Its at the these times I usually go looking for Bodega. And that’s a recommendation