Bodega Cantina was one of the first independent bars and restaurants to open in Birmingham city centre during the city’s cuisine renaissance. The owners, Bitters N Twisted timed it just right and the cool colourful South American vibes, welcomed what was to become Brum’s foodie scene. From cocktails to fijitas, Bodega now exists in Brum central, Leicester and Worcester, which is where this review took place.
I attended the initial opening day of Bodega in Brum way back in 2010? Not a lot has changed in that time, however, that isn’t a bad thing, it means there has been great consistency and you know what you’re getting, more or less. South American food lends itself well to the modern day UK street food scene and that means it’s great for snacking, getting your fingers sticky and a relaxed catch up with mates. Which is what i did.
Worcester Bodega has the exact same vibe as in Brum, explosions of colour in a semi-industrial setting, a cool urban feel to it. The main difference however is that you can sit outside the Worcester restaurant, which we took advantage of.
To begin, we ordered some cocktails, something which Bodega does so well. They have a Cocktail Happy Hour (2 for £9 cocktails Tuesday – Saturday and all day Sunday).
The following were brought to our table throughout the evening: Sandia Descarda (Cheeky Watermelon) with Beefeater Pink gin, apricot liqueur, watermelon, lime & cranberry juice. Pina Colada with Havana 3 yrd old rum, Malibu coconut rum, coconut cream, lime & pineapple. Paloma with Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado tequila, with fresh limes, topped with Ting grapefruit soda and a delicious Margarita. These were all refreshing and highly enjoyable. Cocktails can be a real let down depending on where you go and how much they cost, but Bodega staff have top training for their staff and it shines through in the creativity and taste!
The great thing with South American cuisine is you can just order various sized plates and have it all arrive at once, so it’s ideal for sharing. There’s never any rush in true Latin style.
I opted for a Brazilian Xim Xim (King prawns, chicken & diced vegetables in a peanut butter & coconut sauce served with spicy rice). This was moreish and all ingredients tasted fresh including the prawns thankfully. The peanut butter and coconut sauce tied everything in together and it really was a ten out of ten, i’m returning to order this again soon. The taste was quite unique to me and i finished every morsel.
I then devoured the Mexican Cola Wings (Three large buffalo chicken wings marinated in house blend of spices, served with signature Mexican cola syrup). This tasted so much better than it looked, i was not 100% sure about the chicken wings, until i started tucking in, and oh my days they were just how I like, crunchy and easy to tear off the bones, add the cola sauce is just a pure sticky mess of goodness.
My companion ordered the Grilled Halloumi Skewers (Two halloumi skewers served with fresh pineapple salsa & chimichurri dressing) which she tells me they were superb. She then consumed some Baja Fish Tacos (Three blue corn tortillas, tempura battered white fish with guachille mayo on a bed of slaw) which were polished off quickly.
We finished off with a pretty impressive tray of Ultimate Churros to Share, served with 2 scoops of ice cream, dulce de leche sauce & chocolate dipping sauce.. couldn’t believe we had the space to finish these off, but it was no effort, only a sweet chocolatey pleasure.
In all, a brilliant evening of great conversation and top notch South American colour and cuisine in the heart of historic Worcester. The menu is the same across all Bodegas which is a nice touch as i can nip down to Bennett’s Hill after work one eve for that Xim Xim and some happy hour cocktails!
Well done Bodega, for surviving the pandemic and for just sticking to what you do best without the need for fanfare or constant change.
Review by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.