Cuisine: traditional Mexican
Intro: After the city’s collective palate has been inured to Tex Mex, here comes the real thing
Atmospherics: stylish surroundings that combine a Mexican touch with an international sensibility. White walls with an adobe finish, brightly coloured stencilled motifs, no nonsense comfortable furniture and best of all, plenty of books to read in this sun-filled restaurant with an upstairs terrace that will be great in fine weather. Just outside the open kitchen there are vegetable racks with green tomatoes, avocados and root vegetables for a splash of colour. The best part of La Bodega is the young lady owner who is always on hand for menu suggestions and advice. She is emphatic that she does not want to start serving spicy Tex Mex food. Her Mexican chef coaxes out the authentic flavours from mostly Indian ingredients with a smattering of Mexican chillies and achiote imported for the true taste of a country that has never been truly represented here.
Table Talk: Most of the food is bite sized portions and snacks. They are full of flavour and very compatible with our palate too. The pork marinated in achiote seeds with pickled onions and black beans (Rs 395 for two) is the origin of the now fashionable ‘pulled pork’. La Bodega doesn’t serve its appetizers oozing with sauces that drown the original taste, but there is sour cream, red chilli and green chilli salsa on the table. The underlying appeal of a rajma-like bean makes one realize just how close the two cuisines are. Tuna tostadas (Rs 450 for two) are not unlike a tuna ceviche in a salad with ultra-fresh vegetables like avocado, cilantro, onion and arugula. Served on a crisp corn ‘papad’, you squeeze lime on it and pop it into your mouth. Every section has several vegetarian options. I tried tomate confitado (Rs 350) and was delighted by the juicy sun-dried tomatoes that had obviously been reconstituted, tamed down with a bit of crumbled goat cheese and chipotle chilli. What was remarkable about the flavours was how true they were to the flavour palate of Mexican food, while not being a traditional dish at all, but invented for vegetarian guests!
Plus and Minus: Whether it is churros with chocolate or a full meal, this one is the best of the new crop in Khan Market. The duck mole was not as full-bodied in flavour as I would have liked.
Must try: guacamole tradicional; chicken taquitos; pastel de tres leches (indeed, all the desserts)
Food: 3.50; Service: 3.50; Décor: 4.00
Address: 29, 1st floor, Middle Lane, Khan Market
Tel: 9818229185, 011-43105777
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 3,000