Triple checking the website and Google maps that I had the correct address we cautiously pushed open the door to the sex shop and stepped inside. With no reassurance on the other side of the door I wasn’t quite sure whether to ask for a lap dance or my reservation. After mumbling something along the lines of ‘La Bodega Negra…booking for four’, the door bitch glanced at his clip board, looked up and said ‘they’re ready for you downstairs, can I take your coat?’
And so we entered the dark depths of Soho to be presented with New Yorker, Serge Becker’s first London outpost, La Bodega Negra. Having dined at his famed Mexican restaurant in New York, La Esquina, I had high hopes for this Soho opening.
Was it as good? Well honestly no. But I still think it had its moments. The allure of the underground and the seriously moody candle lit setting is appealing. Not quite as well pulled off as it’s New York cousin but still pretty cool.
One thing we remembered from La Esquina were the amazing Micheladas. And they do a pretty mean one at La Bodega Negra. This is a Mexican beer served with tomato juice and chilli sauce in a salt rimmed glass. You have to try it.
The next thing that you absolutely must order is the grilled corn. I have been dreaming about this corn since I was in New York over a year ago. Grilled with cheese, paprika, lime and fresh herbs it is seriously good. A little spicier than I remember but I still could have put away more than one serve.
The menu is not extensive and definitely not as authentic or interesting as La Esquina. The crab tostadita with coriander, mango and lime was very fresh and over in a single mouthful (they are very small). The BBQ octopus was a highlight in a very rich and smokey tomato sauce.
There are larger mains and seafood and chicken from the grill. We ordered the spit roast whole chicken which was extremely succulent with deliciously charred skin. However I think the Mexican authenticity is lost a little on the mains.
As always with room for dessert we couldn’t pass up the doughy deliciousness of fresh churros with both chocolate and caramel dipping sauce. But more impressed was I with the dessert wine, a d’Arenberg Noble Riesling from the McLaren Vale in my home of South Australia.
La Bodega Negra is not going to win any culinary stars, but it is definitely worth a visit. Even if it is just for the thrill of entering through a Soho sex shop!
La Bodega Negra: 9 Compton St, London W1D 5JF