Things you've never dreamed of

April 11th, 2010 by Rose

Bodega Tapas Bar, Surry Hills

The SO and I were invited to a delightful dinner at Bodega Tapas Bar last Tuesday by a similarly delightful couple, Daniel and Chika. Bodega is a tiny place tucked away on a side street in Surry Hills – but its reputation is such that there is apparently a line of people outside the place most nights (they don’t accept reservations). Being a Tuesday we scored a table quite easily. Well, I say table, but they’re really seats at the long communal table in the middle of the restaurant. We were asked if we wanted our own table or if we wanted to sit in the middle table and being the social butterflies that we were, we took the communal table.

I didn’t take any photos of the place because I was a bit self conscious about taking pictures (I think my mistake was asking if I can take photos first, the dude was like “for personal use?” and I’m like “yeahhhhhhhhh” then I was a bit worried I’d look like a price comparison undercover person or something but uh this counts as personal use right?), but the restaurant is awesome. Not gonna lie, it was a bit cramped and noisy, but service was friendly and well, they’re all hot. There’s a rockabilly vibe in the place with almost everyone rocking 50s hair styles and clothing.

You know what though, I came home and looked at my collection of photos and was like, why did I even bother taking photos if it looks like I took photos of everything with my eyes closed? I’m disgusted guys, disgusted. It’s the opposite of my sentiments on actually eating there, which I’ll get to in the next paragraph.

Man I can’t ever think of a clever way to start a paragraph, so let’s get right to what we had:

Eggplant en escabeche and complimentary bread. I forgot to turn on my macro setting for this shot. What the fuck, indeed. Anyway, I can always get behind a place that gives you a crapload of delicious fluffy bread and olive oil free of charge. Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge says that an “escabeche” is a thing what’s marinated in something acidic. The eggplant was nice and slippery with a strong hint (is that an oxymoron?) of fennel.

OYSTERS. Not much to say there except OYSTERS GODDAMN. They’re $3.50 each. At first I was trying to appear demure or some shit by saying I only want one, but then everyone got two and I was like fuck it I want some goddamn oysters. So I got two, and it was double the deliciousness. The SO only had one because he is very secure about his testosterone levels.

Spiced pumpkin and feta empanadas with yoghurt sauce. It was crispy and not at all greasy. I didn’t think the yoghurt sauce was really necessary but was happily proven wrong when I slathered my bite of empanada with it.

Oh god this is just tragic. I stared at this picture in Photoshop for ages thinking, I’m never gonna salvage this piece of crap. Then I was struck with a brilliant idea – I’ll just resize it really really small and it won’t be too obvious that the picture’s shit. Obviously, it didn’t work. These are the deep fried spiced calamari with aioli. It was slightly too salty for me, but the bits of calamari are perfectly tender. Just one thing though… they gave us enough aioli for a bucket of fried calamari. I would love a bucket of it, just FYI guys.

These are called fish fingers, but they’re not the bright orange processed stuff you get in a box. From the site: “sashimi Kingfish on garlic toast with cuttlefish ceviche and mojama“. It’s a bit salty, a bit sour and a bit sweet from the onions. I’m a huge fan of this.

Steamed pork belly with warm salad of onion and shiitake mushroom. See, my experience with pork belly usually involves the crispy crackling or highly flavoured braise, so this was something very different for me. The steaming produces very silky, melt in your mouth delicate thin slices of pork. Daniel left the rind on his plate. If I wasn’t so concerned about looking like a rude arsehole I would have shamelessly asked if I can have it. If I’m trying to describe the dish by picking a passage from the well worn pages of purple prose analogies, I would liken it to your lover’s breath against your cheek as you sip a glass of wine, discussing philosophy in a buttercup-filled meadow with white doves flying overhead, while the advancing army of soul sucking robots move throu

Just as I was lulled into a trance-like bliss by the wispy carress that was the pork belly, the gutsy chorizo with sofrito paste came along and sucker punched me in the mouth. Pow, motherfucker!

I was a bit confused as to why the salad came later and not at the beginning of the meal, but it was not my place to ask such things – just to eat with relish. In hindsight it was a great way to end the savoury dishes and cleanse the palate for dessert. This was beetroot, labna, witlof and orange salad. I’ve always been kind of ehhhh when it comes to beetroot, but it was gorgeous here with the sweet oranges and tangy labna. I still can’t do witlof though, sorry. Evil little things. I ate them anyway because I’m polite.

The dude who took orders from our table said I can have dessert if I finish all my vegetables. I even ate the fucking witlof so this amazing plate was well deserved. This is the “banana split”, but like the fish fingers the name doesn’t really describe what it actually is. The plate consists of a cream flan, dulce de leche ice cream (WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE), ginger biscuit (assume this is the thing on top of the flan?) and a fluffy banana puree thing. I’d eat another witlof leaf for this.

This was a dessert on their specials board so I don’t actually know what they call this. But it has a pastry thing with some sort of vanilla creamy custardy thing in it, a quince… thing and a scoop of very chocolatey ice cream. I liked the vanilla thing enormously though SO found it a little bland.

This meal (we shared three desserts between the four of us), plus beers and bottle of sparkling water came to about $60 per person. I was completely stuffed at the end of the meal and felt like I had to be rolled out of the restaurant.

Bodega Tapas Bar
216 Commonwealth St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9212 7766


21 Responses to “Bodega Tapas Bar, Surry Hills”
  1. looks like a lot of good choices. i hope to revisit Bodega one day. it’s been on my list for ages now. $3.50 for oysters though is a bit steep if they’re just natural considering they’re $12-$15 a dozen at the fish markets. i tend not to order oysters in restaurants anymore as i seem to be disappointed more than pleased when i compare them to what i can buy at the fish markets. i like seeing what i get first. do you know where they were from?

  2. bwahahah shit dude i love how you write!

  3. Ceviche is (one of) the food of the gods. If I’m ever in New York again, I’m tracking down that Peruvian restaurant that makes the most delicious ceviche (sadly probably without a Costa Rican radical feminist to guide me through the menu a second time, but one must make do with what one has).

  4. wtf is witlof ?

  5. ahaha you are hilarious! thanks for providing some entertainment on this dreary monday morning! I’ve been wanting to try bodega for ages :( the wait really puts me off though, but it seems to be worth it… must.try.soon!

  6. Simon – No idea where they’re from, unfortunately. They were nice, but if you can nice fresh ones for much cheaper at the fish markets I’d give these a miss to be honest!

    Yasmin – I want to come with, NY is on my list of must visit places. The promise of Peruvian food makes it even better.

    Bartek – Devil’s lettuce.

    Betty – You’ll probably have much better luck if you go midweek and wait a bit before they open at 6 PM. That’s what we did and it was relatively easy to get a seat. Then again it was right after Easter so most people are probably either on hols still or are over eating.

  7. Suze – thank you ma’am, you are brill also.

  8. Hehe loved the commentary on this post! And photos for personal use-kind of right? :P I don’t like witlof either-too bitter!

  9. Love Bodega, love your post :) I’ve recreated versions of their beetroot salad at home – such refreshing flavours. I also like witlof – go on, you know you’ll love it one day too :)

  10. Holy shit, look at that chorizo! It’s a good thing SO is secure about his testosterone levels.

  11. Rose! You are hilarious! Love this post – you should be a stand up comedian doing food comedy!

  12. Those oysters look amazing! Not sure how I feel about quince….

  13. Great post, thanks for your sharing.

    is very wonderful and delicious, you’re great!!!

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    please reply to me via mail if you wish ~ ^_^ blog is very very wonderful! ye~2029

  14. oh ive heard great things about this restaurat, and love the commentary :O)

  15. Hi Rose
    Love the review, love the photos and loved that chalk board.

    Cheers and lovely to meet you.

    SSG xxx

  16. i would kill to try that banana split.. KILL!!..

  17. Loved the post! I would’ve gone for more oysters – they looked good!

  18. LOL
    this post rocks, I’m licking up every last vulgar drop

  19. Wow, the desserts here look fantastic! The cream flan is very tempting.

  20. Looks great.

  21. mm WANNA EAT SPANISH NOW! hehehe

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