Bodega! Waterford

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The question everyone asks about Waterford’s Bodega! is this: does any other room enjoy the sort of manic energy that seems to be inscribed in the DNA of this restaurant?
The answer is: no. Bodega stands alone. It’s the restaurant equivalent of a cocktail, something riotous, colourful, alluring, something clamorous that provokes a deep longing in you to consume it right now. It’s the room you want to be in, the action you want to be in on, the conversation you want to join. It’s a blast.
And the strange thing is this: it’s always a blast. Sure, we were there on a Saturday night, when you would expect it to be rockin’. But, in fact, we were really there on an early Saturday evening: 6.45pm. How on earth can a room be rockin’ before 7pm?
It’s always like this said the friend we met for dinner, a native of the county. Always.
With that sort of energy, it would be easy for the food in Bodega to take a back seat. But Cormac and Donagh Cronin don’t let that happen. They may be turning tables faster than Usain Bolt coming out of the starting blocks, but the care and attention lavished on the food never falters. The menu reads like a modern litany – chicken wings; fish cakes; rack of lamb; steak frites; fish pie; vanilla panna cotta – but what animates the cooking is some superb sourcing. They could buy all this stuff from the man-in-the-van, but they don’t.
Instead, the pork is from Crowe’s Farm; the beef and lamb from Joe Mallon; the chicken from Mary Walsh; the duck from Skeaghanore; the salmon from Flanagan’s. And, with such ace ingredients to work with, they don’t mess about with them, and the dishes have the energy and brightness of the room.
So, given that it’s a Saturday night, why not have their smart beef burger sliders with smoked Knockanore cheese, or the sunday-roast-dinner that is Mary Walsh’s chicken with spiced bread sauce, rosti potatoes and butternut squash fondant. This is tasty food, intensely savoury, fun to eat. Just as much fun as being in this great room, in fact. Put this food in this room, and you have Bodega! The one and only.
Contact them at or Tweet them @bodegawateford