Londonist asks that most pressing of daily concerns: where to go on your lunch break.
Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre SE1 6TE
Elephant and Castle
0870 011 3810
Monday 12:00 noon - 5:00 pm
Tuesday - Thursday 12:00 noon - 11:30 pm
Friday 12:00 noon - 2:00 am
Saturday 12:00 noon - 3:00 am
Sunday 12:00 noon - Midnight
Expect to Pay: £8-15 for mains (£5 two course lunch deal)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Colombian cuisine. Well, this Londonist had never tried it before. Thanks to the large Latin/South American community in South London, we have a chance to try it without leaving Zone 1. La Bodeguita, while being firmly a mbian eatery for the London Colombian community, is very welcoming to the non-Colombian Londoner.
The atmosphere? Welcoming, friendly, with very efficient (without being pushy) service. If you go in the evenings of the weekend, a deejay emerges at about 9pm playing a set of Latin music. In fact when we were there, he played a superb Latin version of Happy Birthday as it was someone's birthday. The volume was very cleverly set to being loud enough to shut out the conversations of other tables, yet quiet enough so you could easily hear all at your table.
Onto the food. The most important part of any restaurant. Well, being somewhat inexperienced in the cuisines of South and Central America, it was a delicious introduction to Colombian food. Starters like chicken and beef empanadas which looked a bit like Findus Crispy
Pancakes to my uneducated eyes. They tasted much better though, and were served with a fresh but fierce chilli sauce. Or cassava chips which, while containing more starch than a 50s nurse, were surprisingly light. The main courses were generously sized dishes.Things like a seafood stew, which consisted of seafood in a creamy sauce with hints of coriander. Or beef cooked in a creamy Mushroom sauce. Served with rice, plantains, and vegetables. Very
rich, but so well cooked, that it was impossible not eat on even after this Londonist's stomach was as full as a rush hour tube carriage.
Lastly the price. The quality and generosity of the dishes, are not reflected in the prices. We were pleasantly surprised by the cheapness. A bottle of wine, two starters, two mains, and a pudding came to about 40 quid. If you are coming here for lunch, then they have a five pounds, two course lunch deal. Well worth braving the Elephant and Castle shopping centre for. This Londoner will be eating here again. They also have a shop and a deli, ideal if you get
sufficiently inspired by the food here to try cooking it at home.
Words and photography by Oliver Gili