Bodega Cantina is Leicesters newest restaurant to open in the City Centre and serves a selection of South American street food dishes and vibrant cocktails. Located in the rejuvenated St. Martins Square in Leicesters cultural quarter it faces stiff competition from other casual restaurants in Grillstock and 33 Cank Street. So is Bodega Cantina Leicester worth a visit? Read on for our review!
The literal translation of Bodega Cantina is “Canteen Cellar” but the restaurant isn’t downstairs, it’s on street level in the pedestrianised St. Martins Square. Despite its small building front the inside is pretty big and is nicely decorated with vibrant and pastel colours which is so often associated with the South American countries. The tables and chairs are basic but comfortable and fit in the with casual vibe which Bodega Cantina is aiming for.
I decided to visit on one of their soft opening days which ensured I bagged a discount as well as ensuring I got to experience the real restaurant rather than one of the invite only affairs when so often extra effort is put in to ensure positive reviews. I didn’t get an invite but I”m not bitter about it… honest 🙂
So we arrived early evening and were seated promptly by a nice young lady who took our drinks order. A couple of cocktails and a bottle of wine were the order of the day and I must say that I was very impressed with the quality of wine for a house red. At £14 a bottle I didnt expect much but I was pleasantly surprised. It was also very refreshing to see a restaurant not fleecing their wine drinking customers like so many others do. Its unusual to see a bottle of win sub-£20 these days! Both cocktails were very pleasant too but price wise, they were more towards the normal market value of £7.
So, on to the food. If you are a vegetarian and you want to visit Bodega Cantina then you will be certainly taken care of. More so than a lot of other restaurants for certain (Yes, Grillstock, I’m talking to you here!). Stuffed jalapenos and a vegetable burrito took care of the vegi half of our visit as well as the chicken quesadillas and pulled beef brisket burrito.
The starters: The stuffed jalapenos were really quite nice. A good amount of spice with cooling cream cheese in the middle all encased in a crispy batter. Not greasy at all despite being deep fried and the portion was just right for a starter. The chicken quesadilla was very close to an authentic experience. The only thing to let it down was the salsa picante which was a little underwhelming on the heat factor. But a solid 8/10 for the starters.
The mains: Another Mexican dish which when done right is a total joy to eat and so comforting. Both burrito types were served with skinny sweet potatoes fries, a side salad and some dips. Without doubt, both burritos were bang average. No beating about the bush with this; Bodega Cantina can and should do better burritos. the rice, beans veg and brisket all needed a good grind of seasoning, more cheese and more sauce to be anything close to the authentic ones you would get on the streets of Mexico. A disappointing 5/10 for the mains.
So a mixed bag for our first visit. Good service (which is great considering it was a soft opening). Some good, some average food. Good drinks.
Bodega Cantina Overall Score: 6/10
Final Word: A visit to any restaurant in a real world scenario can be different from the next so with that in mind I would go back to try some other dishes. I would expect Bodega Cantina to raise their game though if it was to be at the forefront of my mind when I want to go out for a lunch or dinner. I would not hesitate to visit this place for drinks. Bodega Cantina Leicester, over to you….
Restaurant website: www.bodegacantina.co.uk