La Bodega Negra 22

9 Old Compton Street , London, W1D 5JF

5 reviews

42 Mexican Soho

  • La Bodega Negra
  • la bodega negra restaurant and bar 2012

SquareMeal Review of La Bodega Negra

We’re going to call it: this is surely London’s only Mexican restaurant hidden behind the facade of a sex shop. Such exterior bawdiness is increasingly hard to come by in Soho, although Bodega Negra’s Stygian urban-chic interior and “great service” have much in common with current restaurant trends. The kitchen’s proclivity for supreme tacos has never been hotter, with fillings including soft-shell crab accompanied by a slathering of smoky chipotle crema, while tostadas feature a winning combo of Serrano ham and tuna. We suggest ordering a selection, plus salad or a piquant plate of ceviche – although those with bigger appetites should look to wood-grilled pork belly with mezcal and salsa or a whole sea bream, tender from the fire. Bodega’s party vibes and low-lit interior aren’t for everyone, but if Tequilas galore and 50ml shots of mezcal sound like a good time, this basement den from funky restaurateur Will Ricker (E&O et al) is for you.

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4.6

Food & Drink: 4.4

Service: 4.4

Atmosphere: 5.8

Value: 4.0

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Chris P. 17 May 2014

1 star is generous after the service I received tonight. I was told to arrive on time or my table would be given away and then when I arrived on time they told me my table wasn't ready and I would have to wait. They then lost my card and as I was with a friend I had no money to get home at which point they said they couldn't help me! Again they were rude and to top off the food was average at best.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Chris P. 17 May 2014

1 star is generous after the service I received tonight. I was told to arrive on time or my table would be given away and then when I arrived on time they told me my table wasn't ready and I would have to wait. They then lost my card and as I was with a friend I had no money to get home at which point they said they couldn't help me! Again they were rude and to top off the food was average at best.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

John C. 31 May 2013

I first went to Bodega Negra in its early stages of life and in truth it was pretty terrible with poor food and totally chaotic staff. Happily, I can report after a second recent visit that the whole enterprise is now much more slick, with great service from our Scottish waiter (his name escapes me) and very well executed cocktails from the competent bar team. The food is much better than before, but I wish it was more consistent between the dishes so that it rises above a competent but average standard. Seafood rioja ceviche was tasty and well seasoned, but in contrast the guacamole lacked flavour and punch. The soft shell crab tacos was really good, as was the pork belly main course. But the much vaunted braised lamb in a sauce of Mexican beer was not cooked for nearly long enough, being hard to pull off the bone, and the beer sauce was so overpowering that all the flavour of lamb had been lost. The rosemary potatoes were undercooked which is a very basic error. The iced berries with white chocolate sauce on the otherhand were absolutely divine. Four starters, four mains, one dessert, eight cocktails and six bottles of water, including service, made a bill of £260. So £65 for four people is quite reasonable, especially with the style and location of the restaurant taken into consideration. Please get the consistency higher!

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Katya I. 29 January 2013

I went to the restaurant a couple of weeks ago with two friends, who coincidentally just came back from a holiday in Mexico. I heard the place was worth a visit but was warned that it was not good value for money. While I thought the design was great, and the atmosphere was buzzing, the music was too loud you had to shout across the table for your friends to hear you. We were disappointed with the food to say the least. A guacamole starter was literally a blob of guacamole with 4 tortilla chips next to it on a long plate. Scallop ceviche did not look appetising either, and seems to have consisted of two scallops thinly sliced. The only dish we actually liked was the chicken for the main course. In the end we were greatly disappointed with the whole experience. I would not recommend this place for food to anyone.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 2.0

Richard E. platinum reviewer 06 April 2012

I have mentioned my American mate Andy before (he who doesn’t do fried nor think that anywhere outside of mainland US 0f A can put ground mince between two bun halves and make anything tasty from it) and his take on UK Mexican restaurants is that there is nowhere on our fair isle that can produce top-end Mexican food. Now forgive me but, having been to Mexico and having spent a good amount of time in southern California, I am not at all sure that there is anything that could be considered top-end Mexican. Americans use Mexican food like we do Chinese or Indian: cheap, cheerful and baring no resemblance to the food that you would get in the Yucatán (or Sichuan Province or the Punjab for us). To be honest, there really isn’t a great deal that you can do with refried beans and corn chips, and it is precisely this slop that the likes of Café Pacifico, Daddy Donkey et al have been punting out to unsuspecting tourists for so long. La Bodega Negra is different. It is a sexy Mexican: the Selma Hayek of the London restaurant scene. The website is sexy: all sepia tinted nudes. The location is sexy. Well, sex shop at least. The clientele is sexy with lots of pretty-young-things and the odd smattering of celebs (apparently Keira was there, who I missed, but I’m pretty sure that the bearded one from The Hangover was in. But as he was serving, I’m not sure it can have been he). And the food is more sex-mex than tex-mex; no refried beans, good chunky guacamole and proper corn chips. And lots of tequila and mescal available, straight up or in a cocktail. So why did it feel such a let down? Well the evening started well enough (although one of our number managed to fall into the sex shop entrance, totally missing the step); margaritas were brought, guacamole and corn chips arrived and we were asked if we’d like to move to a better table. We were then told we were moving to a better table. Fair enough. Didn’t want to, but churlish to complain. Starters then came, and they were really rather good: the crab tostaditas were delicate and had a lovely hint of coriander and mango, the squash mole tostaditas nice and spicy, although the veal tongue tacos were a little plain. The mains were what really let the side down: a slow cooked shoulder of lamb should have been falling off the bone, especially as to serve it you are only given a spoon. It wasn’t. It was tough, hard to get off the bone with a knife, the fat too obvious, having not rendered down enough in the long, slow simmer. The prawns were the biggest prawns I have ever seen: the size of lobsters, and as expensive. Nice enough, but no wow factor. For desert we had but one (along with more margaritas), the chocolate fondant with mole ice cream. Lovely fondant, nasty ice cream: tasted great when first tried, but the chilli aftertaste was way too strong. Half-a-dozen margaritas each should floor anyone. Alas, despite the waitress telling us that they were double shots, I am pretty sure that there was no more than a whiff of mescal in any of them. And that adds up. In fact, this has to have been the most expensive Mexican food I have ever had. Not bad, just once again underlining the fact that top-end Mexican is an oxymoron, a place where the food always plays second saxophone to the sex. Which is really the way it should be.

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