Because South American cocktail lessons beat a day at work
Bennett's Hill in the city has had a shake up, a Latin shake up to be precise - the location is perfect, the bright décor is refreshing and the name invites curiosity, so what is Bodega? Pronounced Boh-dey-guh, it is the South American restaurant from owners Bitter and Twisted. The location is unassuming but Bodega is an intense shot of South American flavours that beckon the uninitiated.
Owners Bitter and Twisted saw a niche in the market and took the opportunity to create a new South American hot spot in the city. It was imperative for owners to change the general public's perception of South American cuisine, which many consider as 'Mexican'. Bodega thus encompasses all South American cuisine, and their ethos is reflected in their menu - the meat is local, the food changes with the seasons, and they stock Mexican chilli sauce, flown over especially for Birmingham's culture-hungry palate. This fresh approach to business is mirrored in the modern, exotic menu that anchors Bodega as the South American restaurant in Birmingham.
So when faced with the menu what did I have? I really couldn't decide between the albondingas cubanas (beef meatballs), or the carne de porco grelhado e uvas (pork in a rum and spice marinade). I settled for the classic chicken and chipolte quesadilla's with batatas fritas (sweet potato fries), and the soft shell crab with mango salsa and spicy lime mayonnaise, followed by the delicately alcoholic banana flambé.
The quesadillas were seasoned perfectly - chicken and cheese is a street food classic but it was the batatas fritas that really put a smile on my face. They are better than your roasters, mash and wedges put together, perfect finger food for both adults and kids that come with a cool and creamy dip. Onto the crab, this is worth writing home about type crab. In terms of presentation it is a very pretty dish and on the plus side the soft shell means you can eat it all, shell, legs, everything. The lightly fried coating is seasoned to South-American perfection but the lime mayonnaise was the hero of the dish. It is home-made and creamy but has enough zing to keep it refreshing and light. Dessert was a pleasant surprise where the banana is chopped and flambéed with Koko Kano and spiced rum. The result is a slightly boozy, syrupy jus that laces the plate with a caramel and rum scented flavour. A scoop of ice cream, and rum soaked, caramelised raisins complete the dish. With a horchata on the side, this really was the perfect end to a simple but very well put together meal.
Their most popular dishes include burritos – you can't have a South American restaurant without them - and churros, which are warm cylinder shaped doughnuts that come with a rich chocolate sauce.
Coming in at the cheapest dish is their vegetarian butternut squash for £8.15, and their most expensive is their steak at £13.75. For a three course meal and a few drinks included you'll spend around £25-£30, not bad for a meal in the city.
Like I said Bodega isn't your average, they import South-American beer, rum, vodka and wine so choose your favourite tipple and head to their basement where you will find the Sugar Loaf bar. The downstairs bar is host to DJ Disgrace who plays a mix of Latin, Hip Hop and Funk on Fridays. It's free entry all night and opens from 5pm. Disgrace starts dropping beats at 8pm until 1am, so it's the perfect pre-drinks venue.
Whether you head to Bodega for a cocktails or a meal, it really is Birmingham's hottest venue. Don't be surprised if you leave whistling a Latin melody, you won't be able to get Bodega out of your head.