Simran Kapoor discovers good food and great vibes in abundance at La Bodega Negra.

It’s a Mexican Monday like no other as I walk through the massive doors of La Bodega Negra at the St Regis. I enter a long hallway with dim, moody lighting and some of the first things I notice are the stand out black and white tiled flooring, combined with a high ceiling with wooden beams, and statuettes against walls adorned with large vintage-style mirrors. This is a world of its own. One of the coolest concepts I’ve visited in a while – very Instagrammable!

With its hacienda-style interiors, La Bodega Negra has a warm, sophisticated ambience. It’s home to a popular bar with an outdoor terrace where, in the corner, I spot a stunning portrait of the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. It’s like a chic living room for friends and family; La Bodega Negra has a casual yet up-scale lounge, dining, and bar area with plenty of atmosphere. Whether you’re on a date, dining solo or a with a group of friends – you won’t feel alone. The team is part of the unique atmosphere; full of life, attentive and happy to keep you company from afar.

Head Chef, Aaj Fernando, talked me through the newly revamped ‘Modern Mexican’ menu items. His energy and passion for food really add to the experience – we got along like a house on fire, just like the food which was a bonus!

La Bodega Negra follows an ethos that brings the freshest, inseason produce to the table – whilst elevating Mexican cuisine for the contemporary palate. Exotic dishes feature fresh yet fiery flavours along with a hint of Aaj’s Asian influence. He believes in keeping the traditional roots but isn’t afraid to play around with ingredients and tweak them in order to make dishes his own and enhance the taste. Taking inspiration from Tulum, Oaxaca and various other travels, La Bodega offers staples like Baja crispy fish tacos and Tuna Tostadas, as well as specialities from the woodfired grill such as giant grilled prawns with chipotle aioli and the Wagyu Rib Eye with Chimichurri and Esquites.

La Bodega Negra invites guests to step into an illicit-feeling, opulent, yet raw space. There is a range of beverages to choose from. The freshly squeezed lime in my drink complements my food and pairs well with the Salmon Tostada, a crunchy fried corn tortilla topped with delicately placed cured salmon and reposado liquor vinaigrette.

The Wagyu tacos make their way to the table next. Soft and tender, the meat rests on small but perfectly formed tortillas made from a distinctly nutty maize flour, topped with cilantro and a home-made salsa martajada – simply delicious!

The head chef’s new offering of the Carnitas De Atun, also known as Chargrilled Tuna, stuffed in Chilli Guero, garnished with Nogada sauce and charred cheese, is nothing short of a work of art! Hands down the dreamiest dish I’ve had all year. The hint of sweetness from the walnut-based cream sauce, followed by surprise elements of pomegranate arils along with the savouriness of the tiny tuna cubes really pulls this dish together. The portion size is such that this could easily be shared by two, however, a serious doubt lingers in me over letting anyone else have any!

For all meat lovers, the Slow Roasted Lamb Rack Barbacoa is cooked to perfection in chilli adobo for five hours – you can only imagine how it so effortlessly falls off the bone and has a delightful texture; for me this is the ideal way to serve this particular cut of meat.

Lastly, the Sea Bass Ceviche – an all-time palate pleaser and refreshing for this time of year. A generous serving, soaked in aguachile negra which gives it its peculiar black colour. A must try ceviche with a twist.

On to desserts and there’s a delectable sizzle as the churros arrive. Crunchy and crisp on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside – heaven on a plate!

They are followed by the chilli chocolate cube – this is a mouthful both in description and portion. Dark chocolate mousse with a hint of chilli ancho, glazed with rich chocolate and served with a delicious scoop of signature caramel ice cream; you’ll be smiling until you reach home.

La Bodega Negra is the place to go if you are up for a lively experience. The food encompasses the traditional and hearty flavours you would associate with Mexican cooking. However, the real draw is the feeling of being in an uninhibited environment and not knowing where the night may lead.

Do take your time to walk around and admire the collectors’ art, luxurious furniture and vintage-themed framed posters. It’s a vibe! I cannot thank Aaj and his team enough, for this culinary experience. ✤