Friday night we headed to Norfolk for our date night. We went to the Hermitage Museum and Gardens for the Bruce Munro exhibit first, and then we decided to check out Bodega on Granby for dinner. It had been a while since we’ve gone for tapas for dinner. The last few times have been disappointing. We went to Waterstreet Grille in Yorktown last year, and had one of the most disappointing dinners of our relationship. We went to our favorite tapas place in Little Rock before we moved, and found out they had closed *sniff*. Luckily, this experience did not disappoint.
They weren’t busy, but I had a reservation anyways (thanks Open Table!). The interior of the restaurant is small, but it’s charming. I especially loved the light fixtures over the tables. While we had an overwhelmingly positive experience, it got off to a shaky start. They offer wine flights (four wines for $9) and beer flights (four beers for $8). I ordered a wine flight, and our server told me they were no longer serving those. I was annoyed by this, since it was written on the drink specials board, printed on the specials menu and another table had one of them on their table. So, that irritated me but I shook it off and went with a glass of the white sangria. I’m glad I did, because it was delicious. It was sweet, delicious, made with Chablis and had tons of apples floating around.
Whenever we order tapas, we always order 2-3 side dishes and then about four things from the tapas menu. There were so many things we wanted to try, but we narrowed it down to seven. We had Brussels sprouts with raisins and pine nuts, sautéed garlic spinach, country bread with olive tapenade, marinated artichoke hearts, Moorish pork skewers, seared tuna and fried oysters.
The first thing our waiter brought out wasn’t something that we ordered, but two pieces of sugar cane. He said it was to clean out pallets, and we just chew on it till the sweetness was gone, and then spit it out. This was super weird for me. The chewed up sugar cane had a weird texture, and I felt really uncomfortable spitting out food at a nice restaurant. But oh well. Then he started bringing us all of our food. They brought out three dishes first, starting with the marinated artichoke hearts, the Spanish country bread and the Brussels sprouts. Everything was so, so good! Out of this first course, I think the marinated artichoke hearts were my favorite. They were served with Kalamata olives, manchego cheese and roasted red peppers.
The bread was good, but the real star was the olive tapenade, of course. And yes, I am completely addicted to Kalamata olives. My only complaint is that I would have liked about 4x as much of the tapenade.
The Brussels were good, but nothing special. I prefer them when they’re roasted, but these had good flavor, and the raisins were a pleasant surprise.
Before bringing out our next course, our server replaced our plates and silverware (nice touch!) and then brought out the rest of our food. This next course… oh. My. Gosh. Everything was amazing. But the winner here was surprisingly not the perfectly cooked tuna, but the pork skewers. Unfortunately, there is nothing more I can tell you about this dish. Their online menu is not up to date, and we ate so much I don’t remember it all. But this pork was probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. And I loved that they served it on thick slices of toasted bread. The bread tasted like the pork and was so, so good.
A close second to the pork was the tuna. This was probably the prettiest tuna I’ve ever had, and it was delicious. The tuna was served on top of a chorizo salsa. Chorizo and rare tuna are not two things I would have ever put together, but I’m glad Bodega did, because it was an amazing combination.
The fried oysters were pretty good. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had oysters before, but I really liked these. The breading was light and the flavor was excellent. But the best part of this dish was the seaweed salad. I really, really love seaweed salad.
And last, we had the sautéed spinach. This was pretty garlicky and delicious. Nothing special, but it was a nice side dish. I like eating something green to go alongside all of my olives and meat =)
I wanted dessert, but I was pretty full after all of that. Then I saw dessert going to the table next to us. And I changed my mind really, really quickly. I was torn between the crème brulee and the flourless chocolate cake. I went with our waiter’s recommendation, and we ordered the cake. It was brought out with whipped cream, ice cream, and was drizzled with chocolate sauce and strawberry syrup. Y’all. This was amazing. I had never had a flourless cake before, and wasn’t prepared for the richness of it. It was absolutely the perfect way to end our dinner.
So, yeah. Great experience here (other than the wine thing). Our server was knowledgeable and friendly, the restaurant was charming and the food was excellent. And what’s even better than an excellent dining experience? An excellent dining experience with reasonable prices. All of the food pictured here, along with two sangrias and two beers was about $80. It’s nice looking at the bill after an excellent meal and not feeling queasy when you see the total… We will definitely return here! There are about a dozen other things on the menu I’d love to try out!