Cava Bodega is an intimate and rustic restaurant on Middle Street in Galway’s city centre. The venue is instantly welcoming with bright walls and friendly staff. Our host led us down to the basement where we were greeted with a lively atmosphere and walls adorned with wine bottles and pictures of pigs!
I had been looking forward to visiting Cava Bodega for quite some time. Ever since Ali and I had attended a talk by its owner, JP McMahon, at the Ballymaloe Litfest back in May. There is something about his attitude to food that really appeals to me. He spoke passionately about food and Cava in particular, about the ingredients, the preparation and the enjoyment people have while eating there. I was dying to visit.
We were handed menus immediately and the host talked us through any alterations to the menu. I like to see this, I like a restaurant that isn’t afraid to change depending on what’s available. It was recommended to order five tapas between the two of us but we couldn’t choose just five, we went for six instead! The tapas arrived as they were ready with the patatas bravas coming out first. The kick from the smoked paprika coupled with the delicious sauce made this an unexpected highlight. These were quickly followed by the rest of our dishes. A beautiful catalan ratatouille, squid with garlic, parsley and lemon, meatball in tomato sauce, duck in plum sauce and finally, black pudding with chickpeas, raisins and pine nuts. All of the dishes were exceptional. The squid was well seasoned and served with a creamy, pungent aioli. The large meatball was well flavoured and somehow perfectly moist. The plum sauce with the duck was spectacular while I would have quite happily eaten the chickpeas for the night.
For dessert I settled on the Santiago Tart, a moist almond tart served with mint ice-cream while Ali went for the churros, which were quite easily the best I have tried and were served with a rich chocolate sauce. The strong double espresso was the perfect end to the perfect meal.
The service in Cava Bodega is exceptional. We found all of the staff to be friendly, approachable and knowledgeable and it seemed as if they all enjoyed being there. As for the price, we paid €78 for 6 tapas, 2 desserts, tea, double espresso and 2 glasses of wine. I would consider this excellent value for the food on offer and was actually quite surprised when the bill came to the table!