New Menu at Bodega Cantina, Birmingham

A Hummingbird mocktail at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham. So I was very happy to receive an invitation to their recent press event to launch the new menu for 2018.

Bodega is a laid back restaurant in the centre of Birmingham, just a few minutes’ walk from New Street Station. It serves a mixture of food and drink inspired by the cuisine of South America, and has a pleasantly quirky appearance.

Mixing mocktails at the Bodega Cantina in BirminghamI was greeted at the restaurant’s basement Sugar Loaf bar with a choice of cocktails and mocktails. Bodega has a really good drinks menu, featuring beers and wines as well as Tequila and Mexcal. But as I would be driving later, I opted for the Hummingbird mocktail – a delicious blend of strawberries, watermelon and pomegranate.

It was encouraging to see that my drink came with a non-plastic straw. Venues across the Bitters n Twisted group are now switching to more environmentally friendly straws, and will only be providing them on request. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a straw for ice based drinks like a mojito!

Nacho nibbles topped with salsa, guacamole and refried beans with queso fresco at the Bodega Cantina in BirminghamAfter a brief introduction, it was onto the food, and we started with Bodega’s amazing home made Nachos. These are always popular, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the nachos themselves remain as good as ever.

You can still order a plate of nachos layed up with toppings, but you can now also order them as ‘nibbles’ with individual toppings. We tried the zingy salsa, creamy guac (sooo good!) and refried beans topped with queso fresco. I’m not usually a fan of refried beans, but these were actually pretty good and I really enjoyed the fresh mild cheese.

The press event at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham, February 2018

There was a bit of a delay before the next round of food turned up. So I took the opportunity to chat to some of the other attendees. The event was well attended as usual, and I enjoyed getting to know the writers behind The PA Guide to Birmingham.

Next we sampled Bodega’s new blue corn tortillas. Blue corn grows in Mexico, so it’s authentic as well as looking cool. There are four different fillings to choose from, and we tried the Mole Mushrooms and Mole Chicken on the night

Blue corn tortillas filled with mole mushrooms at the Bodega Cantina in BirminghamBlue corn tortillas filled with mole chicken at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham

The mushroom filling was really hearty and rich, while the chicken filling had more of a kick to it. If you’re dining with a friend, I’d recommend picking two different fillings and doing a mix and match.

Gin and tonic at the Bodega Cantina in BirminghamOur drinks were refreshed before the next round of food, and I decided to allow myself a few sips of gin and tonic. The Bombay Sapphire came with a lemon and black pepper garnish, and topped up with Fentiman’s Herbal tonic water. It was a great match for the food at Bodega.

Next up was one of the new items on the menu, a Quinoa Chifa which is part of Bodega’s vegan offering.

Quinoa Chifa with tofu, vegetables and a teriyaki sauce, at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham

It’s a Chinese-Peruvian stirfry of quinoa and tofu with vegetables and a teriyaki sauce. I am not usually a great fan of tofu, but this was actually my favourite dish of the night.

The quinoa, black beans and tofu give it a real comfort-food feel, but the sweetness of the vegetables and spice of the toppings gives a lift to the dish. The tofu was particularly delicious!

I could happily polish off a bowl of this as it is. But for some omnivores, the option to add a skewer of chicken or prawns would definitely be a bonus.

After the Chifa, we next tried the newly updated Brazilian Xim Xim.Brazilian Chicken and Prawn Xim Xim at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham, February 2018This was what I ordered when I reviewed Bodega back in October, so I was keen to see how it had changed.

I wasn’t completely convinced about this. It had lost a little of the sweetness and creaminess that I loved so much on my last visit. It still tasted good, but I’m not sure I’d order it again. It’s worth noting, however, that this dish and several others can be adapted to make them gluten-free.

The final dish that I tried was the Sticky Agave Sweet Potatoes.

Sticky Agave Sweet Potatoes topped with black olives and queso fresco at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham

These are served with black olives and more of that delicous queso fresco. I’m not a huge fan of sweet potatoes except as fries (and Bodega sweet potato fries are completely addictive!). The mix of flavours with black olives and the mild cheese was interesting, but to tell the truth, I would rather have just had the queso fresco!

This dish is one of Bodega’s light bites range, which you can order to share tapas-style.

Unfortunately I had to leave the event at this point, as I had to catch a train back to Shropshire. This meant that I missed out on the mix-your-own Caipirinha activity,and I love Caipirinha. But as I was driving back from the train station, it would have been torture to have to mix my drink without being able to sample it!

Graffiti on the walls of the Sugar Loaf bar at the Bodega Cantina in Birmingham, February 2018So overall it’s a thumbs up from me for Bodega’s new 2018 menu. I love the new Nachos nibbles, and the blue corn tacos were delicious. I’m still undecided on the updated Xim Xim, but the Quinoa Chifa was a revelation. Who’d have thought that a vegan dish would be my favourite food of the night?

Thanks to Bodega Cantina for inviting me along to the event. The new Sutton Coldfield Bodega Cantina joins the Bitters N Twisted group in March 2018. So now West Midlands diners will have even more opportunity to get their fix of South American food and drink.

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