30 Baldwin Street
One night, my dad proposed the idea of going out for some fine French cuisine. With Winterlicious taking place, I took up the responsibility of finding and booking a restaurant for this rare family occasion. After scouring through all the Winterlicious menus, I landed on Bodega and booked it. We were now good to go.
Except… parking was very tough to find. The streets were already filled up when we arrived, so we had to drive up and down the street to find a spot. This made us fairly late for our reservation. Luckily, the manager was extremely accommodating and even called a few times to help us out and hold our reservation for us.
When we finally arrived, we were glad he did because the place was packed! We were quickly seated to our table, which incidentally also looked like the only free table available…
The meal started off with some standard bread and butter. I believe the bread was multi-grain with sunflower seeds on it. It was good, and did it’s job of holding off our hunger before the appetizers arrived. Service here was a little slow compared to other places, but this was understandable since they had a full house going and only two dedicated servers for roughly 25 people in their section. The appetizers arrived within a reasonable time. Soup of the day was Split Pea & Bacon, which sounded pretty good, so we made sure to order one. In addition, we also ordered the Baby Arugula Salad and the Crispy Crab Cakes.
The split pea & bacon soup was good, but the saltiness from the bacon was very overpowering. It tasted very good at first, but after a few spoons, the salt had caught on and it was too much. Luckily, we all shared a bit of everything with each other, so the impact of the soup was lessened. If someone were to finish it off all on their own, that would be a bit more challenging.
The baby arugula salad tasted really great! The mushrooms that came mixed into it provided a meaty texture that easily substituted for the usual proteins that go into salads. I didn’t notice too much radish or croutons that were supposed to be in the salad, but the mushrooms were so good that I didn’t care. The sundried tomato dressing complimented the salad very well and really brought out the flavour of the mushrooms.
Finally, the crab cakes were also very good. They were exactly what they were expected to be. Crsipy on the outside and full of crab meat lumps on the inside. The tomato Provencal sauce didn’t provide as much impact as the tarragon caper cream did but the two worked together very well to provide extra flavour to the crab cakes. On its own, the fried crab cakes would’ve been too dry after a few bites, but the provided sauces helped avert this issue.
As mentioned earlier, service was a little slow, so it took a bit of time before the mains arrived. However, it was worth the wait. The highlight of the mains was definitely the Seafood Bouillabaisse. Packed with fresh tasting seafood such as prawns and scallops in a rich tomato broth, this dish appealed even to me, someone who hates the taste and smell of fish. The tomato broth took away any “fishy” smell that a lot of fish dishes come with and left this dish instead with perfectly cooked and fragrant ingredients.
The Grilled Alberta Flat Iron Steak was good. We’ve definitely had better steak before but this one fared very well. It was cooked to a bit more than medium rare but was still very tender with a nice crust on the outside. The frites it came with had good flavour but they were a bit more soggy than preferred.
Finally, the Braised New Zealand Lamb Shank was enormous! The garlic mashed potato that came with it was very good and tasted great mixed with the juices of the lamb shank. The prune & cranberry sauce provided a nice sweet to compliment the salt as well. Unfortunately, the lamb shank itself was not as good as its sides. The one I had two nights before at Pangaea was definitely better. Bodega’s was not as fork tender and had a stronger lamb scent to it.
Dessert came shortly after the mains were cleared away. By now, most of us were already quite full thanks to the large portions at Bodega. But once the desserts arrived at the table, we knew that there had to be more room for such delicious looking food. The first to arrive was the White Chocolate Mousse Cake, then the Warm Banana Cake and finally, the Warm Pecan Tart. The white mousse cake came garnished with colourful raspberry and mango coulis on the side and looked absolutely delicious. And it was. The cake itself was quite sweet. This sweetness was counterbalanced by the tartness of the raspberry coulis on the side. When the flavour of the white chocolate got tiring, you could have it with the mango or the raspberry coulis and this kept the dessert flavourful until fully consumed.
The banana cake was pretty good. It had a more mild taste in comparison and the warmness of it went very well with the Caramel Crunch ice cream. This was a good dessert for those with less of a sweet tooth since the mousse cake may be a little more overpowering in terms of sweetness. Aside from that, the banana cake itself was nothing too extraordinary.
Lastly, the pecan tart was delicious. Served with French Vanilla ice cream, this dessert was quickly devoured by my little sister once she tried a bit of it. In comparison to the previous two desserts, this one would have ranked in between the two in terms of sweetness.
Overall, we were pleased with our visit to Bodega and would probably visit again thanks to the friendliness of the manager and the good food. Our actual server seemed a bit grumpy at times but he was pretty nice, in general =P