la bodega negra

Twitter has been ablaze with talk of new Mexican La Bodega Negra (from Will Ricker of Eight Over Eight and E&O) and I couldn’t resist sneaking in a visit before leaving for NYC tomorrow for a few days of serious feasting. The main restaurant (accessed via a Sex Shop entrance on Old Compton Street) has yet to open but the ground floor taqueria and café has been operating for about a week. Having heard good things about the cocktails I went straight for the drinks menu and ordered a Hibiscus Margarita (delicious!) before perusing the compact menu, which although shorter than expected, had a decent selection.

Our waiter recommended we start with Tostaditas so we ordered one of each on offer – Avocado with Tomato and Queso Mexicano, Tuna with Chipotle, Avocado and Jalapeño and Duck with Pipian Verde. The avocado was fresh and light, the duck pretty tasty, but the raw tuna and cream sauce (tasted similar to a spiced cocktail sauce) pairing seemed a little odd to me.

I wasn’t a fan of the Seared Steak Tacos. The meat was tough and the stew-like vegetable mix spread on top didn’t do much to improve it – I had to heap on some chipotle salsa to make it palatable.

The Cochinta Pibil Pork Tacos with Salsa Verde weren’t great either. Sure, the porcine shreds were moist but it lacked depth of flavour and the pickles were overly sharp throwing everything off-balance. So far, these Tacos have nothing on those at Taqueria.

Thankfully the Camaron Tacos were better – the juicy sautéed shrimp were well-seasoned and married well with the avocado, red cabbage and spicy creamy sauce.

A Quesadilla with Chorizo, Cheese and Roja was disappointingly bland and lacked the punch one would expect of spiced pork sausage. B and I had one each and left the rest.

The Grilled Corn certainly looked the part and wasn’t bad taste-wise, however the kernels were soft and mushy – as if the corn hobs had been boiled rather than grilled.

Honestly I really can’t see what all the fuss was about. Perhaps the food will be better at the basement restaurant (opens on 20th March), but I for one will not be rushing back to try it.

La Bodega Negra
16 Moor Street
London W1D 5NH

t. 0207 758 4100

La Bodega Negra on Urbanspoon

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~ by gourmettraveller on March 16, 2012.

8 Responses to “la bodega negra”

  1. I am excited to read about your upcoming food adventures in New York! Have a great time :) I’m SO jealous!!!

  2. Oh. Boo. From your pictures it looks amazing, so I’m glad I read the text!

  3. Aw, how disappointing – hopefully it’ll grow into things but for now might just stick to Taqueria…

  4. DRAT. Disappointed to hear this as I love Mex food and was hopeful this would add to the short list of quality spots in London. Soft and mushy kernels, oh that reveals so much…

  5. you should give them more time maybe?

    Dinner in the restaurant last night was a triumph, exciting flavours, interesting combinations, something really exciting and interesting.
    Have been to Wahaca and came away a bit muurgh, nothing really captivated the taste buds but last night, wow, Mexican food’s definitely got something going for it!

    Strongly urge you to try it again, if it was anything like our evening, you’ll be pleasently suprised.

    Looking forward to my next trip. Hope yours is better second time round.

    • I sometimes question when people say a restaurant needs more time. Certainly true if it’s an issue with speed and/or competency of service (we waited 20 minutes for our bill at BN that day which I intentionally left out of my review as I attributed it to teething problems) but with regards to food the recipes should be sorted long before they open their doors. We didn’t go during a soft launch, and as customers paying full price I’d expect to be getting the best of what the kitchen has to offer. To be fair, I know quite a few people who liked the food so it could have been an off day but personally I think the flavours miss the mark. There are just too many restaurants in London (and not enough money in my bank account) to give every place a second chance.

      I would agree with you re Wahaca – that is hardly a benchmark though, and if that is your only other experience of Mexican food I strongly urge you to give Taqueria in Notting Hill a go – it’ll blow your socks off.

  6. I walked past this place earlier in the week and was very excited as it looked like it could be great but was didn’t want to be a guinea pig so opted for Dishoon instead. Was hoping to read about it before trying it and am now very glad I found this.

    Love Taqueria, and I can walk home (burning off some food on the way), so given your review it sounds like I’ll be giving this one a miss.

  7. [...] The Beatles jostled for airpace on our visit. Website Other reactions: Four stars from Time Out but Gourmet Traveller wasn’t so keen (they took great photos [...]

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