Across the road from the QVB, and hidden away from the migraine inducing chaos of the York Street bus stops is a little slice of Cuba known as La Bodeguita Del Medio Restaurant.
La Bodeguita here in Sydney is channeling the Cuba of 1950s as well as the original restaurant in Cuba - rustic, colourful and interesting - there are pictures adoring the bare brick walls - parlour style, curious items dotted here and there (like the upside chair nailed to the wall near our table) and customers are encouraged to sign their name on the wall before leaving for the night! The restaurant and bar are enormous, yet the dark moody lightening, heavy tables and chairs, leather booths all make the place feel rather cozy.
Writer Ernest Hemingway is said to have frequented the La Bodeguita Del Medio Restaurant in Cuba, and was quite partial to the odd Mojito. As it happens so I am! Who knew old Ernest and I would ever have anything in common. My Mojito is potent...really potent, and as I'm operating on not much sleep the night before I'm a bit...tipsy after a few big sips. The BFF must have been wondering why I was grinning at him all bleary-eyed for most of the night. Hic.
We start of with a few Entradas (that's entrees to you) – mainly so I can soak up some of the Mojito and be able hold down a decent conversation for the rest of the meal.
The Taquitos ($16.00) caught my eye and they were GREAT! A deep-fried tortilla basket forms a snug little home for a mix of green tomatillos, bell peppers and mantecoso cheese. I would definitely go back for these. The BFF choose the Gambas con Almendras ($15.00) - wrapped prawns with a jalapeño and almond sauce...another delicious entree.
For my Fondo (main meal) I choose the Tamale which I've ALWAYS wants to try ...even though I never really knew what they were other than something that comes wrapped in a corn husk. My Tamales al horno con Huitlacoche ($25.00) comes in a little iron pot – not what I was expecting at all – but really good. The Tamale is hearty mix baked sweet corn, tomato, chipotle chilli and Mexican truffle.
The BFF choose the special of the night, Carnes (aka steak) with Plantains and a Chimichurri Sauce (garlic and parsley sauce). I didn't try the steak, but am told it was lovely and tender. The Plantains (basically a green banana type thing) I did try...quite a few of actually (another food I've always wanted to try but they are in short supply in Australia). They were great - really well seasoned and the batter gave them a nice crunch. I would happily order a big bolw of Plantains and much away on them.
It wouldn't be a trip to Cuba without eating some cactus now would it? The Ensalada de Quinoa y Nopales ($9.00) is certainly an interesting side dish. The salad is a medley of pickled Cactus with Qunioa and a pico de gallo salsa. The cactus...is interesting, firm, crunchy and acidic from being pickled. I wonder if just "straight cactus" is even edible???
I'm trying to be on a diet (and failing obviously) but The BFF is hellbent on ordering dessert. He's swayed by what our lovely waitress, Lucy (from Colombia), tells us is the restaurants most popular sweet, La Lechera ($14.00) - a layered dessert with an ice-cream base topped with a banana flan and caramelised bananas, that is surrounded by pearls of sweetened condensed milk. It's a good way to blow the diet.
La Bodeguita Del Medio Restaurant is at 125 York Street, Sydney. Phone them on 9264 4224.