A chameleon within Soho’s epicentre is La Bodega Negra, a Mexican restaurant ushering into its cinematic basement reservations for ‘those in the know’. Reminiscent of Mexico City’s infamous underground clubs, La Bodega Negra invites diners to step into an illicit, opulent, yet raw space that is home to one of the city’s finest stocked agave bars with its very own dedicated ‘agave sommelier’.
Partnering with its sister café Upstairs at La Bodega, which re-opened with the easing of restrictions on 15th June, the original restaurant (which re-opened its doors on 22nd June) now offers Soho’s food scene a newly refreshed ‘modern Mexican’ menu. Under the watchful eye of head chef Gustavo Giallonardo, La Bodega Negra follows an ethos that champions the freshest, in-season produce whilst reinventing Mexican cuisine for the contemporary palate with exotic dishes that feature fresh yet fiery flavours.
Giallonardo kickstarted his career in Buenos Aires working across five different restaurants, including La Biblio, in the capital before departing for Europe. Having worked at Madrid’s La Corte and Barcelona’s Restaurante Druida, he then moved to London where he was awarded Best Bar food menu of the year by the Class Bar Awards in 2017 during his time at Oriole.
With a signature style that fuses Argentinian cuisine combined with European touches, highlights on Gustavo’s menu include scallop tiradito with serrano, aguachile and kolrhabi, taco al pastor, pineapple pico de gallo and salsa verde, and pork chop with pasilla negra salsa and sweet potato. A particular recommendation of mine is the black truffle mole, which features his unique signature blend. This complex but clever dish expertly combines a fusion of chilli, sesame, peanuts, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, dried grapes and of course the truffle and is served in a quesadilla with Monterey cheese and salsa verde.
True to its Mexican theme, La Bodega Negra’s agave bar offers over 50 different tequilas and 20 mezcals. This includes must try Mezcal cocktails such as the Pepino (Ojo de Dios, pineapple juice, fresh chilli and agave syrup) and the Mezcalita (Ojo de Dios, Triple Sec and fresh lime juice served on the rocks with worm salt). Meanwhile, the restaurant’s star of the show signature is the Horchata con Ron (a combination of homemade Horchata with rice milk and cinnamon sugar syrup and Sailor Jerry spiced rum). Another unique touch worth noting is the restaurant’s dedicated ‘agave sommelier’ who is on hand to educate and guide diners through the history and culture associated with the cultivated spirits, enlightening diners to the unique flavour palates and tasting notes.
Bookings downstairs in the original dining space can be hard to come by throughout evenings and weekends, however, should you want to enjoy a quick taster, it’s worth swinging by the café upstairs. I grant you it may not sound as fun but is where in fact the restaurant’s creativity truly comes into play with a smaller selection of experimental dishes that are constantly being developed by the chefs. This is offered alongside an outside terrace and ceviche bar where you can watch the chefs in action whilst enjoying cocktails from their word-class collection of mezcals and tequilas.
Address: 16 Moor St, London W1D 5AP, United Kingdom
Phone: 020 4580 1186