Friday 29 March 2013

Colombia: La Bodeguita

On a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon, we set off for the Elephant & Castle to find ourselves a taste of Colombia. There are a few places dotted around London selling Colombian fare, but La Bodeguita appeared on several blogs and websites, and looked like a good bet to experience that authentic taste.

Finding the restaurant was a minor challenge. La Bodeguita is actually right in the middle of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre. We were temporarily confused by the delicatessen and cafĂ© belonging to the restaurant, but then spotted the restaurant proper in the corner of the shopping mall. And it's certainly the most lively joint there. There doesn't really seem to be much shopping on offer at the Elephant these days.
It was pleasantly busy for the middle of the afternoon on a day that was so bitterly cold, I'm surprised anyone had ventured out. We were seated by a very jovial host who quickly got us some drinks. We opted for a jug of Refajo, a beer and irn bru mix. Yum! Not unlike a Belgian fruit beer (duh...that might be the fruity taste of the irn bru).
We shared various starters including empanadas that had a lovely crispy pastry. Croquettas de pollo that were moist and delicious and also a plate of Chorizo y Arepa - or chorizo sausage and cornbread to you and I. The tapas were very well cooked, hot and spicy. A perfect start to the meal.
We then moved onto the main event. Suzanne had Arroz Especial a La Bodeguita, a Colombian version of Paella served with some fried plantain. A huge plate of tasty seasoned rice with king prawns. I had Chuleta de Cerdo, or pork escalope. With more fried plantain. This was a beautifully thin pork steak with crispy breadcrumb coating. And James had an enormous plate of food, pretty much every ingredient they had on the menu - Bandeja Paisa. The central piece was a large succulent cut of pork belly, with more chorizo sausage, more plantain and the deal sealer for James, a fried egg on top.

You can't come to a Colombian restaurant and not have a coffee, so while James indulged his caffeine habit, Suzanne and I sampled one of the few home made desserts on the menu. This was literally a huge slab of cheese (tasted like a sheep's milk cheese, crumbly in texture and very mild) with a huge dollop of dulce de leche (condensed milk caramel, if you have never tried it, it's totally delicious but must have about 2000 calories in a teaspoon full, ridiculously sweet). Looks revolting, but it worked very well, although definitely a sharing dish.
By the time we'd lingered over our late lunch, the blizzard was easing outside, so we waddled back to the Northern Line and home. I have to say, I really enjoyed La Bodeguita. I think it would be a great place to come in the evening with a large group of people, as they take their live music seriously, it's open very late of a weekend. Excellent food and friendly service...I'd visit again.
Scoring time...
Food ****
Atmosphere ****
Value for money ****
La Bodeguida on Urbanspoon

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