Wednesday, 20 May 2009

bodega bar and tapas

(published in 3DWorld Magazine)

Shop 1
216 Commonwealth St
Surry Hills 2010 NSW
Phone: (02) 9212 7766

That Shakespearian quote; ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ has a point. Music nourishes the soul as much as good food does the body, so it stands to reason that if a venue has both in good measure; they’re probably onto a good thing. You might hear anything from Rufus Wainwright or the Kings of Leon (when they were good), to ubiquitous jazz in this dimly lit, stylish slice of Surry Hills but all of it is designed to keep the atmosphere pumping and the conversation rolling.

Owners Ben Milgate & Elvis Abrahamowicz certainly could have been 50’s rock’n’rollers, for all their tattoos, the quiffs and the hefty amount of style and harmony that goes into each dish that rolls out of this busy cocina.

‘Tapas’ automatically makes most think ‘Spanish’, but what you really should be thinking is ‘oh goody’. Elvis Abrahamowicz’s Argentinean background and travels through South America and Spain culminate in dishes created with eclectic flavours and textures from across the Latin world and beyond.

For instance, his fish fingers aren’t exactly the kind you’re likely to find in the frozen section at your local supermarket. Here, they come in the form of generous slices of Kingfish sashimi on garlic crostini with cuttlefish cerviche and mojama.

For more traditional offerings, there are corn tamale with black beans and avocado – served in the corn husk. At $20, this isn’t exactly road-side Mexican cuisine but it’s worth trying for its sweet corn flavour and soft texture.


Regardless of your taste or persuasions, whether you’re vegetarian, pescatarian or a full-blown omnivore, chances are you’ll find something to please the palate. And if you happen to be the latter, try the steamed pork belly salad with onions and shitake mushrooms; a true porcine lover’s match.

Dessert generally pleases all though, and the banana split is a thing of beauty. A velvety vanilla-bean custard flan is dished up with dulce de leche ice cream, ginger biscuits and what can only be described as banana mess. It’s creamy, it’s sweet without being cloying and it’s worth the 50km run you’ll need to work it off.

Not quite be the ‘local corner store selling wine’, as the bar’s name implies, there is a great selection of Chilean, Argentinean and Spanish vinos on offer by the glass (starting at $10) or the bottle. Beers and ciders of the same origin go perfectly with the chorizo with sofrito paste or the flaky pastry-filled empanadas of spiced pumpkin and fetta (3 for $10).

Bodega’s sense of humour comes through in the cocktail menu and is worth a look-in; the passionfruit, mint and lime-infused Surly Temple will surely put you in a better mood, whilst the pomegranate molasses-flavoured Eva Patron probably won’t have Argentina crying for you.

If it’s a glass of wine, a chat and a few bites to eat, or a full blown fiesta, arrive early to avoid disappointment or be prepared to wait, because bookings don’t feature on this menu. On the upside though, everything great about tapas and sharing good food and drink in general, is.

(top image courtesy of Bodega Bar and Tapas)