Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
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February 28, 2018

Bodega, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Eat worms and crocodile pie at the new branch of Bodega, says Gaby Soutar

"Yes, and we’re out of alligators too,” says the patient waiter.

On our visit to the new Tollcross branch of Bodega, they were sold out of crocodile pie (£5), and I was just wondering if that was because of a shortage of the eponymous ingredient.

I bet every annoying wise-cracking diner asks that.

Anyway, do not fret about the lack of reptile (this dessert is actually made from puréed avocado), as they’re still serving insects.

These come as part of the margarita (tequila blanco, triple sec, lime, sugar, £6), which features a rim of smoked salt mixed with dark crumbs of crushed agave worms.

I go for this.

They taste sweet and earthy.

Glass half quaffed, I start to freak myself out.

“Aren’t these supposed to be hallucinogenic?” I ask my dining partner, as I watch a xoloitzcuintli (it’s a type of Mexican dog, a funny looking thing) pedalling an orange bike past Scotmid.

“I think you need to calm down,” said my dining partner, and the pup disappeared, ka-poof.

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We order a couple of choices from the selection of Before options.

As it’s a defining feature, like Frida’s eyebrows, of every good Mexican restaurant, I was glad they do a really good house guacamole (£5.50) – chunky, limey and chilli flecked. This comes with a massive bowlful of corn chips.

Earlier this month, round about the time we were in the first throes of celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage, Doritos announced that they were going to release a “lady friendly” tortilla chip.

The pack would be handbag-sized, they’d be nice and quiet when you ate them, and wouldn’t have all those messy crumbs at the bottom of the bag. Ugh, utter twits.

Anyway, how did Bodega’s chips fare, if we judge them along stereotypical gender lines?

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I suppose they were quite lady-like - very fine and snappable, not chunky or dusty. My other half, a dude, ate most of them. Why don’t you use that in your research, Doritos?

Our other starter-ish option – Korean fried chicken wings (£6) – was magnificent.

They had a sort of fine batter on them and were coated in a sticky, garlicky and vinegary sauce, then a gritty scale of sesame seeds. I was compelled to lick my fingers, like a proper lady shouldn’t.

For mains, tacos are your lot, and they recommend you order two pairs each.

We shared four pairs, all of which came on soft seven-inch-single-sized tacos, not pre-rolled or in one of those fancy metal holders, but flat on a plate. Our favourite was probably the carne asada beef (£7.50), with a rich dollop of stewed beef, a chevron of sour cream and some mild chipotle ranch dressing.

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Second was avocado tempura (£7). It sounded not-quite-right, like the baked avocados that were popular in the Seventies, but we loved the effect of silkiness with a crunch.

This was teamed with some slaw and a bit of very mild wasabi mayo.

The Baja cod bites (£7) version was a little flatly bland, though a nice fish and chippy idea, with Panko-crumbed cod goujons and some pin-thin potato matchsticks, along with a smudge of smoky tomato sauce.

We weren’t that keen on our final round of Vietnamese pork (£7.50) tacos. I found the slabs of soft meat topped with beansprouts and a few squares of kimchi, crazily salty. Maybe someone in the kitchen had to throw a pinch over their shoulder.

Oh, and we also had a helping of some halitosis-inducing scallion fries (£3.50) – aka battered spring onions, with a lush honey mustard sauce.

Since there was no Crocky-Wock pie left, I didn’t bother ordering a dessert.

The only other option was churros (£4.50) with cinnamon sugar, and I do find that once you’ve had one churro, you’ve had them all (though perhaps I will revisit to test out that theory).

Anyway, it’s great to be able to visit a branch of Bodega in this part of town, not just at their original Elm Row venue. It’s already very busy, so get along quickly, because the early bird catches the mezcal-infused worm.

Or, if they’re very lucky, a crocodile pie and a cycling xoloitzcuintli.


36 Leven Street, Edinburgh (0131-28 9485,




Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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