CLOSED: Bodega (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 30 Baldwin Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Bodega is a quaint bistro situated in Baldwin Village. The dining area, split into two rooms, is more spacious than it appears; swathed with traditional dark woodwork and white linens. Despite the hushed surroundings, service is surprisingly friendly and boisterous putting diners are ease to let loose.

Of course, their cocktail hour from 4 to 6:30 also helps. What a great deal of $5 pints, $6 cocktails and $7 wine. You’re allowed to choose from anything on their menu. I tried the strawberry tonic (regularly $9) a refreshing concoction with gin, muddled strawberries, grapefruit bitters, thyme and tonic water. It was delicious and I’d highly recommend.

Bodega has a fairly extensive menu with even a few Spanish dishes thrown in the mix. Their affordable $35 prix fixe dinner is hard to turn down, so the majority of our table ended up ordering from that. The rabbit terrine appetizer was a generous slab (much meatier than expected for a lean animal). It wasn’t overly gamey and went well with the pommery mustard, gherkins and plenty of pieces of crostini.

Most of my friends opted for the grilled flat iron steak for their main. Adorned with shallot butter and crispy Yukon gold frites it was a satisfying portion for everyone. My friend thoroughly enjoyed the frites, but the crispy coating (perhaps from being tossed in flour?) wasn’t how I generally prefer fries made.

The grilled salmon I had was a big portion covered with rosemary, mustard and maple glaze. The maple syrup definitely stood out, to the point that it was a tad too sweet for my taste. The menu notes the dish is accompanied with fingerling potatoes and vegetables (roasted carrots and snow peas). But, it made no mention of the creamy sauce covering the sides. Personally, I could have done without it as found the creamy cheesiness mixed with the maple’s sweetness to be an odd combination. But, the salmon itself was cooked nicely.

My friend ordered the roasted pork tenderloin ($24) off of their a la carte menu. As with all their dishes, it was a hearty portion. The pork was tender and I enjoyed the sage vinaigrette accompanying it, although I must agree with my friend who found it a bit strong.

To end we shared the lemon tart and crème brulee. The tart was delicious – sour enough to taste the lemon but with some sweetness to remind you it’s dessert. The shortbread crust was also excellent, buttery enough without covering up the lemon.

The vanilla crème brulee was a deep dish portion so you get plenty of the creamy custard. The sugar crust on top was a tad thick but well bruleed and caramelized.

All in all, Bodega has the old fashioned charm synonymous with traditional restaurants. It’s an ideal location for date nights or somewhere to bring the parents (unless they of course love blaring music and sharing small plates). I’m just glad it’s a good balance and also not too stuffy.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!