I know for some of you, this post is probably a bit late on the bandwagon for the super sexy and cool Mexican foodie in Soho but I still wanted to add my two cents after recently trying the cafe as opposed to the dark, downstairs restaurant hidden behind that sneaky little sex shop façade.
Way back in May of this year a group of us headed to this once-sex shop now turned spicy Mexican restaurant for a friend’s birthday. We were all over excited to try the food and the place had a massive buzz surrounding it after a certain number of celebs were seen frequenting there. It was the place to be. (seriously just google it, everyone who’s anyone has been papped coming out of here!)
Unfortunately we found the experience to be less than enjoyable. Pretentious was more the dish of the day with the staff came across as a little snooty. I don’t know if it was the regular A-list clientèle that made it like this…perhaps after having Harry Styles and the Primrose Hill set in for dinner your average Joe’s birthday party of 8 just aren’t interesting enough? Who knows, but the door staff just seemed a bit put out by the fact we were there.
Our table host, on the other hand, was amazing. Carefully explaining the menu, recommending dishes and answering every painfully stupid question all in a tantalisingly thick Northen Irish accent . He really bought us back from the lukewarm welcome we’d received. That said as the dinner continued it became apparent that they don’t like loud birthday parties. Even asking us to remove our party hats at one point*. I guess they just want to keep it achingly cool, calm and collected down there. For starters it’s the darkest restaurant I think I’ve ever been to, lots of low level lighting and mysterious corners where it feels like you can disappear so I guess a drunk group of twenty somethings shouting happy birthday probably does ruin the ambience a bit.
*they weren’t even standard party hats they were super cool, make-your-own, paper, baseball caps as you can see in the picture below!
So after a less than happy experience the first time, I wasn’t in a rush to go back. However when the opportunity arose to go on a works dinner there…well, I couldn’t say no. I mean it’s not like I wouldn’t be paying! And perhaps it would be better now that the initial hype had died down?
The works dinner soon became a works lunch and we actually ended up booking into the cafe which can be found on the parallel street to the restaurant. Maybe it was the fact I was out with clients and therefore generally better behaved or that I could actually see the place and menu but it was a million, billion times better in the cafe than my experience in the restaurant.
The waitress was really friendly and helpful…she was relaxed and had amazing recommendations. She was hosting us, not just taking our order. And as for the food? Well…Mexican is probably my favourite cuisine. Anybody who puts sour cream and cheese together on a regular basis has my vote. La Bodega Negra absolutely nail it. I vaguely remember the food being good the first time round…something along the lines of a tuna tostada taste sensation? But this time I savoured every bite and man, was that some serious s a v o u r i n g!
To start I had a vegetable tostado, a crisp tortilla topped with guacamole and halloumi – I actually nearly died and went to heaven when I tasted it…what a
fucking combination! – and for mains I went with classic chicken quesadillas which were just divine. All washed down with a couple of tequila and elderflower cocktails. Finally rounded off with a shared portion of churros and chilli chocolate – inspired.
I have to say I steered clear of the hot sauces – being such a wuss, umm see my last post – but my fellow diners told me that they certainly cut the mustard when it came to adding a little spice to their meals.
I’m really glad I got to go back and give these guys another chance and I think it helped being in the slightly more relaxed environment of the cafe (and not being absolutely leathered on margaritas). I’d be much keener to book into the restaurant again but this time maybe as a couple and less of a rowdy party?
Have you been to La Bodega Negra? What are your thoughts? Did you have a good experience?