7 March 2014

Bodega - Un Sabor De América Del Sur

I miss the Ironbound, Newark home for a while now, I wanted to find a link back to the Latin and South American vibe that I became accustomed to during my placement year in 2012. I stumbled upon Bodega, a vibrant and contemporary South and Latin American Cantina so I made my reservations to try it for myself! Birmingham needs more South American food! 

Just make mine a Margarita! Bodega has a very attractive daily cocktail happy hour from 4pm to 7pm everyday to enjoy! I might have been in Birmingham but there was a certain feel in the air, I could have mistaken my surroundings for a charming Cantina in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico?! Anyway, I loved my first cocktail in the form of a bitter sweet Margarita that certainly packed a healthy shot of Tequila for it tasted mighty fine! I noticed the drinks menu featured the word 'Bebidas' that means 'Drinks' or 'Beverages' in Spanish, I just love a bit of Spanish it just makes things perfect for me! Priced at £4.00 for a refreshing beverage as pictured to the left I wouldn't argue with that one bit!? Bodega, Birmingham is located on the corner of New Street on Bennett's Hill, which is within a few paces from Birmingham New Street Station so making the last train home should never be a problem. Check @BodegaBirm out on Twitter.

Quenching my thirst twice more with a Daiquiri and a Caipirinha I made the most of the cocktails that were on offer to me at Bodega, Birmingham. Ordering my meal didn't take much thought as I had already studied the menu beforehand, both online and numerous time I have walked past the restaurant on my way to New Street via Bennett's Hill. I took the plunge one Friday evening I decided I was going to be cultured by having a nice meal rather than getting inebriated. It's definitely a chore to find some quality Latin and South American food in Birmingham, or maybe I've been looking in all the wrong places? Nevertheless, the waiters and waitresses were approachable and knowledgeable of the delights that were on offer. I should have really said 'Camareros y Camareras' which translates to the obvious in English translation 'Waiters and Waitresses' I think my knowledge of Spanish is returning? The Margarita, Daiquiri and Caipirinha was talking!? Yes, my student loan was in pain! 

Choosing to begin my dining experience with the Beef Empanadas, which were really nice. I last ate Empanadas in Tarragona, Spain in July 2013 so it was great to be reacquainted with that dish again! Captured to the right is what I enjoyed for my main course, named 'Pollo con Arroz' meaning 'Chicken with Rice' I visualised my usual Newark Brazilian favourite dish. Served to me was a contemporary version of my beloved Newark street food, the flavoursome chicken tasted great with the cinnamon infused rice. Accompanied by some corn on the cob and black beans, my meal took me back to my Newark and Puerto Rico days for sure. I'm all spent out! Back to my meal it did not take me long to enjoy the whole portion that was presented to me, the infusion of Latin and South American flavours marinated together like a dream. Did my starter suit my main course? Yes, I would have loved a second helping.

I took my seat at around 5pm to a half full restaurant that was mostly made up of young professional types, for Birmingham's branching out to be a trendy affair for dining nowadays. I didn't need to wait long before the 'Cantina' had grew in numbers, chatty tables enjoying their wines and Latin American beers such as 'Modelo' that happens to be a Mexican beer. How did I find out about Bodega? I would purely say it was utterly by chance as I don't chase the usual chain restaurants all the time for its nice to try somewhere that doesn't pull in the masses, you get the picture? Did I not mention that the cocktails are immense?! I did! With my appetite satisfied by my starter and main course I was swayed between the 'Brazilian Carrot Cake' or 'Churros' so I needed to make a choice! The 'Churros' won the battle for desert and they tasted mighty fine! What was I doing having 'Churros?' I'll want to be back at Disney World next?! I'm entitled to a treat, that will be the end of that spark! 

Moving away from the food served, I would have to say that overall ambiance of the 'Cantina' was pleasant. With the appropriate music playing and decor I did strangely feel like I was back in Cafe Puerto Rico, a nice feeling for me to experience. Birmingham's got some great restaurants that range from Chinese to South American so it's always tough to put a winner amongst all of the competition but I did really love my dining experience at Bodega, Birmingham. Captured to the left is the main body of Bodega's lively 'Cantina' please forgive the orb like lights for the actual setting exuded a romantic dim light, so I guess you'll have to judge that for yourselves! Need I be so careless not to mention the 'Sugarloaf Bar' downstairs from the lively atmosphere of Bodega's restaurant. The 'Sugarloaf Bar' offers a intimate Latin experience that can be reserved for special occasions. How about your special occasion?

Bodega, Brum is definitely a restaurant I would return back to! I need to remember the key times for Happy Hour because I could do with a few more Margarita's in my life! So, I look to Birmingham to say 'Where are you hiding all of my student life?!' Being honest sometimes means that negativity can be present but I ate some lovely food at Bodega so I simply wanted to express those minor aspects. I hate to see journalists that just spout horrid and depressive things about a restaurant, I only eat at places that are nice so I guess that's just my luck? If I remember correctly the cocktail happy hour is from 4pm to 7pm? Don't quote me on that! Until then I'll just have to get a grip and find restaurants that bring that familiar taste a little bit more real. So thanks Bodega for a really nice meal and bringing back some Latin and South American flavour back in my life! Muchas Gracias! and Muito Obrigada! Choose Bodega, Birmingham! I say have a liquid lunch or after work drink?! Do it! 

Joseph Harrison

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