With its warm Mediterranean colours, this place would bring the sun out on the darkest of days: interesting artwork, pine tables covered with the occasional oilcloth, a mix’n’match collection of seating; and, now firmly established as a Waterford restaurant that delivers quality and value, it is always busy.
A written menu offers 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 duck leg confit with gratin dauphinos, sweet red cabbage and berry & wine sauce, slow cooked shank of Slaney Valley lamb, and Wicklow venison casserole with mash & crumb topping.
But, although menus are quite extensive and offer a wide range of very tempting dishes, including imaginative vegetarian options, Bodega!'s 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 fish offered from several suppliers in Waterford and Castletownbere.
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 renowned local butchers Bobby Flynn and Tom Kearney, who supply all the beef, lamb and pork; Sheridan's cheesemongers; and M&D Bakery, who supply the local speciality, a bread roll called the Waterford Blaa.
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 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.
Regular live music too, with big names including Mary Coughlan, Freddie White, Eleanor McCoy.