There was once when my idea of a good night out was skipping dinner (I know, hard to believe nowadays!) and heading out to a club to dance away the night. These days, I prefer sharing good food and unwinding over long conversations.
An excellent place for that, is at Bodega.
Bodega is a strictly no bookings restaurant for groups of 4 or less which works in my favour. I'm there by 5:50pm, waiting for the doors to open at 6pm! I'm the first from our 'Female Entrepreneurs That Eats' trio to arrive, and one of the first in the restaurant.
Not surprisingly (considering our last lunch turned into a half day off work -- thank goodness we're all our own bosses!), we spend a leisurely four hours here and are the last table to leave!
Bread & olive oil ($2 per person), Fish fingers with hiramasa, charred toast, cuttlefish and Mojama ($22)
Lingering at a restaurant for four hours is not easy if there isn't delicious food! And to that note, we sample a significant portion of the menu!
Bodega's fish fingers are nothing like the frozen variety. These are a play on bruschetta and feature charred garlic toast with kingfish ceviche, diced cuttlefish, onion slices and shavings of Mojama, a Spanish delicacy consisting of filleted salt-cured tuna.
Even more amazing is the buttermilk pancake which I would happily devour any time of the day. The salt cod croquette and smoky maple butter is a lovely contrast between salty and sweet and the oozy burst of yolk is creamy and magnificent.
If you love ox tongue as much as I do, then you'll also appreciate the steamed milk bun sliders which are pretty dear at $12 a pop. These buns are impossibly fluffy and soft! Wedged in between the buns are slices of BBQ tongue topped with crab meat, a bit of lettuce and salsa golf (a tomato based mayo).
Buttermilk pancake with salt cod, 62 degree egg & smoked maple butter ($16); steamed milk bun, BBQ tongue, crab and salsa golf ($12 each); stuffed zucchini, spelt, pumpkin, fetta & black olives ($20); grilled calamari, pickled tomato, ink & watercress ($18)
The grilled calamari is slightly over-charred which dominates in flavour but the stuffed zucchini are wholesomely good. They're stuffed with a mixture of spelt, pumpkin, fetta and black olives are are literally bursting at the seams.
Onto the more heavier "dude food" dishes, we try today's special which is slow cooked beef brisket with BBQ sauce, onion rings and a fried egg. There's a lot going on in the plate but everything works rather incredibly. On the other hand, we have a deconstructed ramen dish minus the noodles aka Bodega's steamed pork belly. How gorgeous is the presentation? I love the blackened onion petals and the subtle fragrance of the broth.
For dessert, we share the banana split, a refined and more luxurious version that is intensely bananay in a bloody good way, and the chocolate pudding which is served with a divine apple granita and milk ice-cream.
Slow cooked beef brisket, BBQ sauce, onion rings & fried egg ($28); steamed pork belly with clams, sherry ramen sauce ($24); "banana split" cream flan, banana marshmallow & dulce de leche ice cream ($16); chocolate pudding with milk icecream, hazelnuts & frozen apple ($16)
I should also add that service was helpful and unrushed. It wasn't a cheap night out (it came to about $90 each - with a few drinks) but well worth every dollar!
216 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9212 7766