Firmly established as a leading Waterford restaurant that delivers quality and value, the warm bright colours of Bodega feel like a corner of the Mediterranean and it is always busy.
Proprietor Cormac Cronin has a high regard for the quality of raw materials in the region; 85-90% of their food is produced locally and they take pride in listing their suppliers on all menus.These include, among others, Joe Mallon, Tom Kearney, Crowe’s Farm and Skeaghanore Duck; Sheridan's cheesemongers; Gubbeen Smokehouse and M&D Bakery, who supply the local speciality, the Waterford blaa bread roll.
Not content to leave it there, this innovative restaurant offers a 'Home Grown' menu, with special emphasis on seasonal foods - and a 'restaurant trail' in partnership with La Bohème (see entry), allowing diners to start the evening in the restaurant of their choice and finish in the other.
Everyday menus offer everything from lunchtime dishes like soup of the day and quiche of the day, to Bodega fish pie (including a junior version on an under 12s menu) and steaks, to dinner specialities such as duo of West Cork duck (pan fried breast, confit leg), organic pork belly, and game dish of the day (in season).
Cooking - by Head Chef Jamie Dowling and a strong international team - is good and, while there's always a wide range of very tempting dishes, including imaginative vegetarian options, a particular strength lies in the strong selection and skilled cooking of fish. There may be one or more fish choices on the menu but the main choices are on the specials board where, depending on availability, there may be eight or more local seafood dishes offered from several suppliers in Waterford and Castletownbere.
Blackboard specials could typically include Castletownbere monkfish, Kilmore Quay John Dory, and Boat Strand mackerel, cooked in various ways; all are likely to be a good bet - and friendly staff are well-informed to advise. At lunchtime the place fills up with young people, some with children - who are made especially welcome - and there are lots of regulars.
Dinner is a little more structured than lunch and the prices heat up a bit too, but it’s still good value - and at about €21/26 for 2/3 courses, the early dinner is a snip.
Desserts include Bodega versions of plenty of favourites favourites - the Deise Blaa bread & butter pudding perhaps - and don’t forget to check that specials board. And true to form, the drinks list is sure to include a good range of Irish craft beers, including the Waterford Metalman.
Regular live music too, with big names including Mary Coughlan, Freddie White and Eleanor McEvoy.
It's a terrific restaurant and its popularity is well deserved.
*** Burzza pizza and burger restaurant opened next door in 2015, with Eoin Heffernan as Manager. Neapolitan Wood Fired Pizza and chargrilled "Proper Burgers" are the specialities, based on seasonal local foods as would be expected of this kitchen team, which includes Giovanni Viciconte who qualified as a Pizzamaker by the National Association of Pizzamakers, Italy. Craft beers too, of course.