Another selection from Eater’s Heatmap brought a friend and me to Bodega Negra in the Dream Hotel on 16th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. The NYC branch opened in February and there is also a location in London).
I was a bit nervous when I made the reservation, so I called back to explain my allergy (peppers the vegetable, aka, capsaicin) and ask if I was going to be SOL since it is Mexican food. They assured me that they make everything on the spot and I wouldn’t be able to have everything on the menu, but a good amount would be available to me. Great!
We restated this to our waiter, and I made him nervous, but he assured me he would make sure I received no peppers.
The interior I would call… eclectic. It was very dark when we walked in, and it kind of had a haunted house type feel somehow, with antique and semi-industrial artifacts hanging in every corner…
…including the ceilling.
We started with grilled corn with queso fresco and cilantro (it also had a chipotle aioli, which they kindly left off mine). I’m a huge fan of grilled corn with cheese, and this did not disappoint. Delicious charred corn with that salty, creamy cheese and fresh herbs.
We decided to split three different tacos, which were served in pairs. We went with the peking duck mole negro (with sesame seeds and kumquat morita compote), pork belly carnitas (with salsa verde), and skirt steak (with grilled onions, salsa roja, guacamole verde, and queso fresco). Our waiter checked with the kitchen and he informed us that I could eat each of them with a bit of modification, and he would serve the sauces on the side so my friend could enjoy.
But when he put them on the table he looked forlorn and told me I couldn’t have the steak NOR the peking duck. Womp wooooomp. But he came back a few minutes later to say that someone was messing with him and that the duck actually was okay. Phew! But the beef still was not. Damn!
I so enjoyed the duck and the pork, however, that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t try them all (and my friend said the beef was also fantastic). Really awesome with fresh, flavorful ingredients, even without the spice. Killer.
We got a side of fried plantains, which I was very pleased to find out was covered in delicious Mexican cheese. I absolutely LOVED these. Yum yum yum.
While we were eating, I saw someone across from us get a dessert that I just had to try. Not only did it look delicious, but it looked like fun. So the waiter came by and I asked what the sphere was that they melted on the spot… and he told me we just had to try the Don Huevo, which was described as dark chocolate molten cake, Negra Modelo caramel sauce. Had I not seen it at the other table, I would have never expected this to be what was delivered…
And then… the magic happened…
What was left after the decadent hot caramel pour was an incredible, phenomenal cake, with bits of crunchy white chocolate shell with some of the best caramel sauce I’ve ever tried. And the molten lava cake inside was perfectly cooked and perfectly sweet and bitter. It was one of the best deserts I’ve ever had in my life. (And I pride myself on having had a whole lot of great desserts)
With a side of (chocolate) scorpion.
What a meal! And that dessert alone… wow. I cannot wait to go back… but especially for that dessert. Run… do not walk… run to Bodega Negra and get the Don Huevo. (And have a meal while you’re there)
Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10