Step past the barrels of rum at La Bodeguita del Medio, and it’s the closest thing you’ll come to Cuba in the heart of Sydney. Painted murals depicting scenes from Havana and hot Cuban rhythms transport you half a world away and back in time to the 1950s.
La Bodeguita del Medio mural
This is the place you come to for a Mojito. On a Thursday night, the energy behind the bar is a frenetic mix of shaking and mixing as the bartender tells me their Mojito record for one night stands at 1700.
The imposing bar stretches one length of the vast premises with exposed brick, archways and blue painted ceiling. Perch yourself on bar stools, order from the drinks menu with an impressive rum collection that includes the Diplomatico Reserva we tasted at the Sydney Whisky Fair or sit around a table if it’s a quiet night.
Vintage car and graffiti – Dark ‘n’ Stormy (L) and Mojito (R)
La Bodeguita is known as “Home of the Mojito” and with Ernest Hemingway’s famous phrase “My Mojito in La Bodeguita” gracing a wall at the original LBDM bar in Havana, this is the place to try one.
I watch my Mojito being made with Havana Club Rum, fresh mint and lime, soda and sugar. It comes served long with crushed ice and a fresh sprig of mint. It tastes very fresh and a little sweet without the strong alcoholic kick I like,which makes it easy to follow with another. Mr G orders the Dark ‘n’ Stormy made with Gosling’s Rum, ginger beer and fresh lime, a drink that delivers more of a rum/alcohol taste than my cocktail.
Rum selection behind glass – Estrella Galicia on tap
La Bodeguita has a restaurant section with intimate leather banquette booths and tables. Serving Cuban food, the menu has a range of comestibles designed to share, entradas (smaller dishes) and mains divided into fondo and carne (meat).
There’s a good selection of wines from Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand including some by the glass. We toast a 2009 Altozano Tempranillo from Castilla in Spain.
2009 Altozano Tempranillo
Vieiras Cubanas ($21)
We start with Vieiras Cubanas, juicy scallops on the half shell with corn, a lime dressing and topped with a melted cheese – a great starter that delivers a little heat to whet the appetite.
Codillo de cerdo con naranja ($32)
The codillo de cerdo con naranja is well portioned dish of tender and tasty pork hock, with the unusual flavours of orange mojo and tacu-tacu. I love the combination of flavours in this dish so much that I am likely to order it again on a subsequent visit.
Pato con chocolate ($36)
Pato con chocolate is a tender duck breast, served with sweet potato and spinach croquants on a delectable chocolate sauce with a subtle and slightly bitter flavour – a dish that caters very well to Mr G’s taste.
Café y Caramelo ($14)
For dessert, or postres, we share a decadent Café y Caramelo, a mocha dome served with with candied peanuts and a delectable salted caramel ice cream.
Havana Club Mural
Barrels of Rum
Salon di Miembro
La B del M
La Bodeguita del Medio recreates the feel of old Havana with its old world décor, Latin vibe, fun ambience and music that takes you there. The impressive bar is a great place to meet friends or hang out if you can secure a seat or a table. You can work your way through the cocktail list as you chat to the bartenders who are attentive and interested. The selection of rums available is worthy of more visits. There is a small balcony where you can also smoke Cuban cigars from their cigar menu.
The food at La Bodeguita is another reason to come back. Every dish we ordered packed a lot of flavours and left us eager to try the rest of the menu. However, service in the restaurant wasn’t up to par with the overall experience. Our waitress knew very little about the dishes and the menu in general, and although there were many staff circulating the dining area, catching one’s attention proved difficult, particularly when wine glasses were left empty and main courses were served. But don’t let that be a deterrent. A night at La Bodeguita is a fun experience you’ll want to repeat.
La Bodeguita del Medio
125 York Street (behind the QVB building)
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