Sangria, mojitos, live music and a sumptuous three-course meal. Sounds like a perfect Friday night out, but no, this is just a Wednesday night to us. But not a regular Wednesday night – it’s Karen’s farewell part 2 – with another group of friends all equally obsessed with food.
This time, we converge on La Bodeguita del Medio for a night of Cuban food and drinks. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. Somehow Cuban food for me simply got lumped into Spanish cuisine and I was just expecting something similar so I have to say I was nicely surprised. Being a group of nine, we were limited to the function menu* with a choice of a 2, 3 or 4 course option. The only tripper here however was that you had to choose which one beforehand as all supplies for the restaurant were ordered the day before. A quick email consensus later, we settled on the 3 course – one entrée (entradas), one main (fondo) and one dessert (postres).
La Bodeguita del Medio has some history – beginning in Havana, Cuba in 1950, it’s one of the places in contest for the origins of the classic mojito. It was here with the writer Ernest Hemingway coined the phrase “My Mojito in La Bodeguita” which according to their history gave the restaurant its international acclaim and has since been adopted as the La Bodeguita catch-phrase.
Memories from the original La Bodeguita del Medio
As you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted with walls covered with scrawlings from everybody who’s visited the restaurant, random curios and a spattering of photo frames depicting the original La Bodeguita del Medio in Cuba. You’re hit with so much ambiance that you’re instantly transported away from the bustle of the city to another kind of bustle. It’s a buzzing of a busy restaurant combined with the cacophony of laughter and conversation. The fact that the two hours before we arrived from 5-7pm was Mojito Happy Hour sure helped this along.
Mojitos & Sangrias
Rum is the spirit of choice here where they serve no less than 102 different types of rum from their bar. But it’s a school night for us, so we settle for jugs of white sangria and the signature La Bodeguita mojito.
Tiradito de Vieiras
A cold dish to start off with slippery slivers of sea scallops and a yellow chilli dressing. On arrival to the table the dressing deceptively looked like an orange sauce, so it was an abrupt shock to be greeted with the spicy zing of the yellow chilli dressing.
Slices of seared wagyu beef served with a marigold dressing. The spice rub used on this was divine and packed loads of flavour.
Codillo de cerdo con naranja
This was pork hock, served with an orange mojo and tacu-tacu. The latter two accompaniments were completely unknown to me, so I just banked on the pork hock and hoped for the best. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed. The mojo on top was sweet and acidic which did nicely to cut through the fattiness of the pork hock. The tacu-tacu on the other hand was a spicy fried bean (and rice apparently in the most traditional form but wasn’t here) mixture with spices that made for another textural contrast to the fatty pork hock.
Pato con chocolate
Pieces of delectably pink duck breast served with sweet potato croquants and chocolate sauce. I only managed to eat a single sacrificed slice of a slice off Felix’s plate and by the time I turned around to ask for another piece, it was all gone. I assume it was good. :)
Lomo de res
A seared porterhouse steak served with roasted potatoes, chimichurri and topped with a red pepper salsa. The freshness of the salsa against the smokiness of the steak made this dish for me. I can’t help but laugh at the patient hands being held back and away from the table as I took my snaps. That’s true friendship for you :) Thanks Choong!
Carpaccio de piña
Pieces of caramelised pineapple served with a coconut ice cream.
Flan de leche con compota de fruta
A condensed milk crème caramel served with a berry compote. Considering the name indicated to me that it was a dulce de leche based, I was expecting something overwhelmingly sweet. Surprisingly the sweetness was actually quite reserved even when eaten plain with the caramel. The berry compote was a nice addition with the tartness serving to cleanse the palate after each mouthful.
Trumpet player and lead singer from the live Cuban band
Gotta love the trumpet player playing it up for the camera! We were given prime position to take in the live music with our table on the same platform as their stage. Only downside being that a practice of our lip-reading skills was required when they were playing one of their livelier songs.
The live music even inspired Karen and Richard to get up and give dancing the can-can a go. Of course, this just ended in fits of laughter. The guys and girls in the open area behind were a lot more pro.
Merry Christmas from Sydney’s Town Hall!
And before I end this post, I’d like to take the opportunity to say Merry Christmas to everybody. It’s been another long and busy year and I hope for another one next year. :)
|La Bodeguita del Medio
125 York Street, Sydney, Australia
P: 612 9264 4224