BN_Main Dining Room_Photo Credit Tanya Blum

Bodega Negra Makes Its US Debut at New York’s Dream Downtown
TAO/Strategic Group Brings Popular UK Restaurant Stateside, Offering Mexican-Inspired Fare

Bodega Negra, an offshoot of the popular London import known for its menu of upscale Mexican fare, opens today at Dream Downtown. TAO/Strategic Group worked alongside nightlife legend Serge Becker and his partners, celebrated UK restaurant operator Will Ricker and entrepreneur Ed Spencer Churchill, to bring this concept across the pond.

“The US location of Bodega Negra offers the same fun and upbeat dining experience found in the UK’s La Bodega Negra,” says Becker. “The concept, which very much embraces and reflects the ethos of the Mexican fiesta, aims to remind guests to celebrate life through good food, drink and music and most of all great friendships, at low and high tide.”

Designed by Becker, who conceptualized the look and feel of the London dining experience, the 108-seat restaurant is the result of the transformation of the space located just off the lobby of Dream Downtown. Upon entering Bodega Negra, guests encounter an intimate, mock Tudor Hacienda space rich in dark tones and accented by mirrored panels and copper trim. A black A-frame ceiling draws the eye up to exposed beams where a dramatic copper penny disco ball hangs central in the dining room. Mix-match décor, from screens made of repurposed Mariachi uniform details and guitars to collaged antique paintings, set an evocative tone for the evening. Wooden tables and banquettes, upholstered in reclaimed military tents, animal hide, and traditional Mexican Serape textiles provide seating in the main dining room amongst a wall of antique tequila barrels.

Deconstructed pianos form the visual centerpiece of the 12-seat bar, replete with a bronze countertop and glass-blown, rose light fixtures. The menu of Mexican-inspired fare, created by Executive Chef Michael Armstrong, can be enjoyed in full at the bar or in the restaurant.

“I’m thrilled to return to Mexican cuisine; the flavors and ingredients are something I’ve been passionate about since the beginning of my career when I was cooking at Café Azul in Portland,” says Executive Chef Michael Armstrong. “While I brought back a few tricks and popular dishes after working with the chefs at La Bodega Negra in London, about 60% of the menu is unique to this location. We’re lucky to have access to some of the freshest ingredients here in New York City and we’re not taking that for granted.”

Chef Armstrong draws inspiration from the various regions of Mexico, with an emphasis on Southern Mexico, to create a menu that invites sharing and consists of a selection of starters, tostaditas, ceviches, salads, tacos, entrées and sides. New signature dishes unique the restaurant include dishes like Bodega Guacamole, served with fresh jicama slices for dipping in addition to house-made tortilla chips; Roasted Chile Relleno, quinoa, zucchini, mushroom, corn, onion, Chihuahua cheese, pasilla chile sauce; and Crispy Pork Belly, manchamanteles sauce, pineapple-plantain salsa.

TAO Group’s stamp has also been subtly woven into the menu. Chef Armstrong, who most recently helmed the kitchen of TAO Asian Bistro in Las Vegas, combines traditional Mexican ingredients with his mastery of Asian flavors and techniques to create dishes like Peking Duck Tacos, served with mole negro, sesame seeds and a kumquat morita compote wrapped in hand-pressed tortillas, made in-house daily. Select favorites from London, like the Quesadilla Rustica, a four-cheese, habanero and roasted tomato, open-face quesadilla served with chimichurri and crema; Tuna Ceviche served with guajillo chili vinaigrette, avocado, chile and sesame seeds; and Soft Shell Crab Tacos, served with guacamole, shredded lettuce and chipotle aioli, round out the menu. Large-format feasts will be available in the coming months for pre-order, including dishes like Whole Suckling Pig, which can be enjoyed by larger groups in the restaurant or the private dining room that can accommodate parties up to 24.

To end on a sweet note, Executive Pastry Chef Mauricio Santelice created a menu of Mexican-inspired desserts including Cocomel, coconut caramel custard served with vanilla bean whipped cream, and a selection of sweet Empanadas, filled with apples, strawberries, blueberries or cream cheese.

Signature cocktails, created by beverage expert Tim Cooper, include twists on classic Mexican libations like the Chamomile Daisy, a riff on a classic margarita made with Reposado tequila, chamomile-apple agave and fresh lemon, and a classic Mexican Paloma, made with Blanco tequila, fresh grapefruit, aperol, herbaceous lemon and salt. Authentic Mexican Sangritas derived from fresh oranges and tomatoes are paired with the restaurants 90+ list of tequila and mezcal available by the glass or by the bottle. A menu of Mexican beers, including Negra Modelo, Tecate, Corona, and craft brews such as Day of the Dead IPA, is also available, as well as a wine list offering both Old and New World varietals.

In the coming months, Bodega Negra will also offer scaled down lunch and dinner menus at the adjacent 35-seat cafe that is Melvin’s Juice Box, serving as a hangout for locals and hotel guests alike.

Bodega Negra is located at 355 West 16th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) at Dream Downtown in New York City. Dinner is served Monday – Sunday, 5:30pm – Late. For reservations, please call 212-229-2336 or visit www.bodeganegranyc.com for more information.

 

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