Last updated at 15:21, Friday, 13 May 2011
REVIEW: Bodega, Bowness
TAPAS is one of those concepts that has you wondering, “why didn’t we think of that?”.
Although I’m sure it made its way from Spain to the UK many decades ago, it is still a new prospect for a lot of people in this country.
Some don’t get it – “It’s all just starters, isn’t it?” – and some people might have a problem with sharing, but for me it is the perfect way to eat.
You can pick a couple of dishes each, take a risk on new foods and leave anything you don’t like for someone else.
I was in Bowness with a couple of friends on a recent camping trip, looking for somewhere to eat.
I’ve visited the town dozens of times but I don’t know a lot about eating out there.
Bowness has a reputation for its nightlife and, as such, there are a number of trendy bars and restaurants opening up all over.
Bodega, in Ash Street, is one of them, but it would be very easy to miss – a small doorway on the side of Sol Bar that leads to a staircase.
It was purely the menu on the door that enticed us in, but on reaching the top of the stairs we knew the gamble had paid off.
I’ve been to Spain a couple of times recently, and seeing the sunlight beaming through the open window, with the relaxed sounds of a classical guitar and a water feature providing the ambience, I was instantly transported back there.
The staff that greeted us were also Spanish and the decor was authentic – it was hard to believe we were still in Cumbria.
We were there to start off a night out, and the huge list of beers from around the world was just what we were looking for.
It was early on a Saturday night and there were only a handful of other diners but, even so, service was surprisingly quick.
We came up with a shortlist from the 50-plus dishes available, and when we finally settled on a varied top seven the waiter was there immediately to take it down.
Ordering by number is easy, and thankfully not frowned upon, so the whole process, from our arrival to the arrival of the food, took less than 15 minutes.
If anything, it was too quick, because in Spain they tend to kick back and set aside three or four hours for an evening meal.
The tapas dishes on offer cost an average of around £4, and they are generally the size of starters.
Gracing our table were meatballs in a tomato sauce, fried whitebait, garlic bread, potato wedges, mozzarella and bacon, Spanish omelette and chicken wings. All of them were big hits with the three of us.
The fact that we demolished the whole lot within a couple of minutes may suggest that portions were a little small, but the reason for our ravenousness was the quality of the food.
I’ve had award-winning tapas in Leeds, and the real thing in Mallorca, but this was as good as, if not better.
With food this excellent, to avoid the dessert menu would have been criminal.
My friends both opted for a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, while I went for a lime and meringue pie – £4.75 each.
Again, thumbs up all round.
For the equivalent of a main meal, a dessert and a beer each, just over £45 in total was an absolute bargain.
Later on in the evening, the restaurant filled up, so Bodega is clearly not as much of a secret as I thought it was.
I can’t stress enough how impressed I was, though, and if you find yourself wishing you were in the Mediterranean, I know somewhere you can go.
First published at 13:01, Friday, 13 May 2011
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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