Time Out says
What’s old is new again as this celebrated Surry Hills tapas legend moves in to a new wine-bar home
Make no mistake: the Bodega you know and love is no more. Shuttered. Closed. Boarded up. Thirteen years, and the lights went out with no fanfare, no shouts of “tapas is dead” from the Surry Hills rooftops.
And that, of course, is the point. Bodega lives, just at Wyno, a few blocks away from the original. In what they’re calling Wyno x Bodega, the team – who also brought us Porteño, Bodega 1904 and had a helping hand in LP's, Bella Brutta, Stanbuli and the Continental Delis – are combining the best of both for a tapas bar/wine bar double bill.
The bones of Wyno, a tight bar-bottleshop styled on its wine-focused predecessor 121 BC, remain: the long counter, which seats just 27, encourages sharing and conversation; the bottleshop still trades in takeaway; and staff can talk wine with the best of them. But the place had felt incomplete since the food started being run from neighbouring Porteño rather than its own pokey kitchen.
Like at Wyno, there’s a short list of snacks and share plates that work equally well post-work or pre-theatre (Belvoir is two blocks away) as they do for a blow-out – but a new open kitchen brings more immediacy.
The garlicky toasts forming the base for the fish fingers, a Bodega signature, land warm and charred, topped with raw kingfish and a sharp cuttlefish ceviche. Dark Basque-style cheesecake – a crustless thing baked extra-hot to set the shape – sits proudly on the counter, ready to be cut and dressed with sweet, sticky preserved cumquats.
Bodega’s rock‘n’roll sensibilities bring life, too. The music, which throws ’90s rock in with Talking Heads and the Cure, is louder, and everything – that means everything – on the wine list is available by the glass.
Staff might pour whatever they have open, encourage you to grab a bottle from the shop where Italy, France and Spain are the main stops outside the local stuff, or follow your whims on the 300-plus label list. After a splash of bottle-aged sherry to keep the Spanish theme going? A glass of top-end Barolo between two? A thirst-crushing South African cinsault? Ask and you shall receive.
On the food front, the dark, handsome Wyno focaccia is a good place to start. It’s paired with olive oil, but it’s best kept to swipe through the brown butter on a dish of plump ricotta dumplings, to dab into the tuna sauce shipping grilled ox tongue topped with leek vinaigrette, to scoop up the spicy pepita mole served with charred octopus and roasted tomato or to soak in the sticky pear-cider number coating a brick-coloured coil of spiced pork sausage. It’s all saucy, and it’s all bold.
The old Bodega sported a mural of a bull with the words “barriga llena corazón contento” (full belly, happy heart) emblazoned on his barrel chest. Here, it’s cut up and rearranged on the wall as a symbol of an institution entering a new era. It may look different, but the sentiment still holds. Full bellies. Happy hearts. Can’t lose.
50 Holt St
(enter via Gladstone St)
|Opening hours:||Tue-Fri noon-11pm; Sat 3-11pm|