La Bodega Tapas Bar and Grill in Regina has been a favourite of mine in the Cathedral neighbourhood for over 10 years. Part of that reason is that I lived right across the alley for about eight of those years, and became a semi-regular, popping in for a glass of malbec and steak frites or mushroom strudel at least once a month. The place was always busy and always humming.
Since Dave and I moved to the Lakeview area, I haven’t been there as often. I missed my old hang out and we decided to head back for a Friday night meal. I expected it to be completely packed after work when we arrived at about 5:30 p.m. To my surprise, it was lightly busy with lots of tables to choose from in the dining room and the bar.
It had been about three months since I had last been to La Bodega, and I immediately noticed the menu had changed again… for the better. I recall not really being that excited by the menu on my last visit, and found some old favourites were gone. This time around, I was excited by the many new authentic tapas options, as well as the fresh sheet dinner specials. I found it seriously hard to choose!
Our wonderful server Kate was fantastic as always, and she explained that the menu was recently changed to get some old regulars (like me) coming back more regularly again. Prices were dropped and serving sizes remained the same, to provide greater value to customers. Always a good thing! Kate has always been a welcoming and friendly presence at La Bodega, and one of the reasons I always returned. I am sad to report that Kate has decided her days at La Bodega are coming to an end in July. If you want to wish her well, get yourself to La Bodega pronto!
After much deliberation, Dave and I chose two new appetizers to start. I can’t pass up an heirloom tomato caprese salad, and the moment I saw it on the fresh sheet, I had to have it (even though it was the priciest thing I would order that night at $16). The buffalo mozzarella cheese was incredibly fresh and soft, and the basil and heirloom tomatoes were equally fragrant and delicious. An excellent beginning.
Dave chose the Escargot Andaluza from the Haute Cuisine section of the daily menu for $10. The escargot were mixed with tomatoes and mushrooms in an herb, garlic and cream sauce, and serviced with crostini. Dave felt the sauce could have been spicier or more flavourful and the crostini were a bit too overdone. That said, he was happy to try something new.
For my main meal, I chose the Falafel Platter in the Platos Grandos section (larger tapas plates). The herbed chickpea patties were deep fried and delicious, with plenty of dipping sauce options – gazpacho yogurt, kalamata olive tapenade and Provençal sauce (which replaced the promised hummus on the menu, as the kitchen was out). Hummus was one of the reasons why I chose the dish, so I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t available. Happily, the feta basilica and saffron rice completely made up for it. I was completely full at the end of my main course, and felt it was a pretty good deal for $12.
Dave chose the Spanish Paella for his main, as the mixture of mussels, chicken, prawns and chorizo, served over rice has been a favourite of his for some time. He noticed the price has indeed come down to $12 (a good deal), but he also felt there wasn’t as much rice as he has previously been served. Overall, he enjoyed his meal, but could have used more rice to round it out.
La Bodega is a favourite for a reason. The menu is fun and different for Regina, the ambience is funky, the atmosphere is youthful and the service is always friendly…good reminders for me to make regular trips to La Bodega… now that I live further than an alley away!