If the old adage of "you are what you eat", then right at this moment, I am probably 90% tacos. I've probably overdone it, I admit, but I couldn't help contain the excitement when La Bodega Negra on Moor street finally opened it's doors to the public.With two main areas, a bar and taqueria on the ground floor, and a much more illicit dining room downstairs (located through a fake "sex shop" entrance, it's just a little of the exclusivity and NY buzz that the owners are trying to bring to the place), Serge Becker, an impresario of the New York night life has brought his take on the Mexican taqueria to London alongside Will Ricker, a London restaurateur. With the rich heritage of Mexican food in America, I had hopes.
Guacamole, chips and dips are in my eyes a zesty version of a Mexican amuse bouche. Packed with citrus, onion and chilli, the guacamole was a rougher texture than some places, but then again, I don’t like my guacamole pureed down to baby food. Piled high on the corn chip with tomato salsa and a smoky chipotle salsa, these were incredibly addictive.
The tacos themselves were quite excellent. Ordering a variety of different versions, each with it's own character. The pork pibil, slow cooked and unctuous, came with a hint of a mint salsa. Subtle but refreshing, adding a nice lift to the rich few mouthfuls. Al pastor (marinated and roasted pork) served with pineapples were salty, meaty yet a little bit of sweet. Other tacos of seared steak and hongos (mushroom) were less remarkable but still enjoyable. All served on corn tacos and with a spritz of lime, these hit the spot.
Other morsels eaten included tostaditas of tuna and duck, smaller mouthfuls on crispy fried taco shells, grilled corn and quesadillas. Our chorizo quesadillas with cheese and salsa roja were packed full of cinnamon and spice, a pleasant surprise. Personally, I enjoy my corn without anything on but butter, but the corn at Bodega Negra comes smeared with crema mexicana, some sort of cheesy mayonnaise like sauce, not really my kind of thing.
So all in all, I really enjoyed both visits. I think with all the hype amongst the foodie world, and the attachment of Mr Becker and Mr Ricker, the food is never going to match everyones expectations, and indeed, there were some recent less favourable reports of bad service and sub standard food. However, it is early days, and I received nothing but glowing personable service when I was there, and I have no reason yet not to go back. At about £30 a head with a margarita, it's smack bang in middle cost territory and it's only a matter of time before I discover what lies behind those faux sex shop doors.
More pics HERE
More pics HERE
La Bodega Negra - 16 Moor Street, W1D 5NN