I took my two sons to La Bodega on Howe St. a week before it closed last summer. I showed them the scary looking bull’s head on the wall, the old wood cabinetry, the big wagon wheel, and the myriad other details that delighted me as I kid (my father lived just around the corner for a period in the late 70s).
We feasted on the classic staples (patatas bravas, gazpacho, spicy chorizo, etc.) and bid bittersweet adios to the place, comforted in the foreknowledge that co-owner Francisco Riva’s son, Paul, had secured the space next to Campagnolo at 1041 Main Street with plans to honour the original restaurant with a completely new one.
The 150 seat Bodega Main is set to open for lunch and dinner before the end of August. It’ll be open for seven days a week from 11am until midnight with weekday Happy Hour between 3pm and 6pm.
I took a look inside with Paul and longtime Bodega manager Hector and was surprised to see how much they’d salvaged from the old spot. They’ve brought over tables, chairs, bannisters, light fixtures, dishes, signage, door handles — even complete doors! Not all of it is going to be used, of course, but it’s great that so much was saved. In showing me the basement (which they hope to turn into a wine bar with live music at a later date), Hector revealed even more treasures: cabinetry, racks, even the original wagon wheel itself. Couple all of these elements with the red chequered table cloths of old (being sorted and stitched together as I toured), and you have more than just a fond whisper of what used to be.
Of course, Bodega Main won’t be La Bodega exactly. It’ll be a much brighter, more modern restaurant with soaring white walls and plenty of natural light coming in from the street. The menu is different, too, though a lot of the Spanish classics – such as the ones I last feasted on – are making a comeback.
Diners can expect bar snacks like salted and sweetened Spanish almonds with rosemary and little bowls of mixed olives; sharables like sherry-sauteed prawns, blistered peppers flecked with Maldon, a variety of cheeses and hams (including the best in the world, Jamon Iberico de Bellota); a deep selection of hot and cold tapas dishes (everything from albondigas and deep fried squid to lamb chops and mussels in spicy tomato sauce); and two different types of paella. The menu draft I poured over read long and delicious. I can’t wait to dig in.
For drinks, there will be three sangrias (red, white, rose), original cocktails, sherries, plenty of beer, Cava, and a tidy wine list — the full package.
They hope to have everything sorted for an August 22nd opening. Cross your fingers and take a look…