The opening of the new La Bodega in Leawood was exciting…
But what I really wanted was to check it out as a full service restaurant. Last Saturday I joined some friends that live out that way and we were ready for lots of drinks and small plates of food.
The place was packed at 8:30, which is 10:30 “out south time.” This is a great sign.
The energy is flowing, the bar is full.
They try to seat us at a four top right next to the kitchen and bathroom entrance, even though there is a better table up front.
Is Frank Sinatra coming?
I really don’t get it. Give the last person the last table. No one is going to complain about a bad table when it is the only option. I point out the other table and the hostess moves up up towards the front after checking with the front desk.
Our waitress arrives and i’s too loud to hear her announce her name, but I am pretty sure it was Clumsy McClumsyton. Unlike my friend across the way, I didn’t have ice water spilled all over my leg or food falling off plates and on to the table.
I was the lucky recipient of random coughing directly into my glass and on to my plates.
I have to say, she was very attentive, removing plates and forks with such speed, that we we had to steal more supplies from the table next door so we could dish out our tapas. So, at least the pace was favorable for a tapas restaurant.
I have my favorites from the downtown menu, but I love dining with new people and learning about their favorites. Along with the “I don’t like this” and “I love that” dialog.
I Chose one of my old standby’s, the Queso de Cabra Al Horno (Goat cheese baked in tomato sauce and garlic bread) and the flavor was spot on to the downtown location. What was not spot on was the portion size. While the goat cheese was perfect, the tomato sauce looked like it had been drained from the bowl. This is the kind of dish you want to heap on your bread and that wasn’t even possible.
We also ordered the Gambas a la Plancha (Sautéed shrimp* with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes) which was perfect and amazing with a little kick. I wish this dish was an entree. I have never been able to order this without sopping up every last bit of sauce with our bread basket.
We moved on to the Patatas Bravas (Potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) which also has a nice little kick and it was prepared just as I remember- comforting and filling. My friends chose the Solomillo con Cabrales Grilled beef (tenderloin crusted with Spanish bleu cheese) and although I am not a blue cheese lover, I found this dish to be bursting with flavor and tenderness. Finally, I tried what will become a new favorite, Vieras con Jamón Serrano (Scallops wrapped with Spanish ham and red pepper aioli.) While sometimes I find the whole one thing wrapped with another thing, a little tired, it works here. The sweet scallops were so incredibly creamy and tender against the crispy and salty ham….really well done. I wanted another…but just like that…whoosh, my plate was gone.
I couldn’t talk about the high energy ambience without mentioning drinks.
Normally I would choose a bottle of wine for this type of dinner, but my friend was jonesing for the sangria and the hubby wasn’t into the picture of a watered down wine thing. Being the trooper I am, I agreed to split a pitcher…then another…well, you can see where this is going….it’s going up, as in price. Sangria’s are expensive and you get a lot less bang for the buck. Thing is they are the “Fun Bobby” (FRIENDS sitcom reference) of the drink world and you just can’t say no to “Fun Bobby.”
Out the door and 20 degrees December slapped me back to reality as I stepped from “fun, warm and cozy” into “cold, dark and suburban”.
My friends wet pants freeze into a slab of ice, but he smiles and waves goodbye. I guess that leads me to my point. La Bodega syncs in all the right elements and sets the stage for a positive experience. An experience, that even with glitches, will still leave you smiling.