If there was one thing I had heard about LBDM it was the mojitos. Mojitos are such a great cocktail and probably my all time favourite. They’re an awesome mix of sweet, sour and freshness of mint with just enough soda water for that great fizz. Other than the mojitos I’d not heard too much at all, although I have walked passed it a few times and thought it looked like a cool place and something we should try one day. So when I received an invitation to dine at LBDM I didn’t hesitate to accept.
We arrived and walked up into the bar side of the restaurant at a little mezzanine area with a downstairs bar (closed off) and the main bar upstairs. The bar looked pretty cool, with stools flanking it and a mirror on the back wall painted with ‘The original home of the $10 Mojitos’. We made our way to the other side of LBDM – the restaurant – where we were greeted and shown to our table near the stage and close to the bar.
While perusing the menu we started with some cocktails. Lex went for the daiquiri and for myself there was no way I was ordering anything other than a mojito. Both arrived in no time at all and they both tasted superb.
Daiquiri – Havana Club Rum with fresh lime and a hint of sweetness ($14.00).
“Arguably invented back in 1900 at Venus in Santiago, Cuba, for miners who had run out of gin, and relatively localised to Cuba until rationing of Whiskey and Vodka during the Second World War. This concoction of Rum, Sugar and Lime has become the most famous cocktail served at Restaurante Floridita which has become known as “The Cradle of the Daiquiri”. Also a favourite thirst quencher of conspiracy of the century contender John F. Kennedy!”
Mojito – A mix of Havana Club Rum, fresh mint, lime, soda and sugar ($14.00).
“The Mojito has been around for over a century. Starting life as the drink of the Cuban Campesino – Sugar, Lime and Mint took the rough edge off strong cheap rum. Passed on from fellow bar owner Jose Abeal to the founder of La Bodeguita Angel Martinez, the Mojito has been enjoyed in Havana by many famous faces such as John Wayne, Clarke Gable and of course our most regular visitor Ernest Hemingway.”
Gambas con Almendras – Wrapped prawns, jalapeño and almond sauce ($15.00).
The prawns were wrapped in kataifi (shredded pastry) and there was a satisfying crunch when biting through it and into the prawns. As they were fried the prawns did seem a little overcooked and missing that super juicy texture we just love but this was redeemed by the great flavours of the dish. The sauce was quite a treat, something neither of us had experienced before. A nice little undertone of chilli heat with an earthy and creamy flavour and texture. The tomatoes were a nice touch, just enough to liven up the palate and stop the sauce being too creamy.
Panceta de Cerdo – 42-hour pork belly, compressed watermelon and white balsamic espuma ($17.00).
With no calamari entree left I was having a hard time deciding between the prawns or the pork, but when Lex said she was going to have the wrapped prawns I knew it was pork belly time for me. Served on a thin piece of slate the portion size appeared quite small but as usual looks can be deceiving.
Cooking anything slowly for 42 hours is going to make it just melt in the mouth soft, but pork belly with generous layers of fat just becomes the softest juiciest meat ever. I really liked the compressed watermelon with its slightly firmer texture, and the kick from the white balsamic made the fat from the pork seem less fatty. My only problem with the dish was the crispy skin, it was SO crispy there was no way my cutlery could take it on, and I had to resort to breaking it apart with my hands.
Our second round of cocktails included Lex’s choice of the fruity planters punch that was great but completely overshadowed by the potent zombie that Lex & I both loved with “lots of rums” and a nice amount of pineapple that blended perfectly.
Planters Punch – Myer’s Jamaican Rum with fresh lime juice, sugar and a dash of bitters ($17.00).
“This cocktail featured as early as 1901 on the back of Myer’s rum bottles & was invented by the owner of the distillery Fred L. Myers in late 1900’s.”
Zombie – Lots of rums, pineapple, passionfruit, lime and bitters ($20.00).
“This famous Don the Beachcomber cocktail from the 1960s is one of our more potent concoctions.
Drink more than one & you could be walking like a Zombie!”
Pato con chocolate – Duck breast, confit leg, sweet potato puree and chocolate sauce ($36.00).
Lex’s indecision with the mains lead to a process of elimination, but thankfully before some real hard decisions had to be made our lovely waitress offered her thoughts and advice and with this guidance Lex settled on the duck. Although the presentation was a bit lack lustre it was the sweet potato puree that really got my attention, it was just so silky and smooth with a great sheen to it. The duck breast was cooked superbly with crispy skin and a lovely pink centre. The confit leg was sadly way too overcooked and dry – looking and tasting like it was deep fried to the edge of its life. The sweet potato puree was great and there was the odd hint of chocolate throughout which made for a good dish despite the confit leg.
Lomo de res 350g – O’Connor premium dry aged Delmonico steak ($42.00).
For my main I wanted to follow Terry Durack’s recommendation of the lobster, but sadly there was no lobster available. With my vision of a seafood dinner dashed it was inevitable I would go for some beef. There was a steak special that featured compressed watermelon but my entree selection ruled that one out. In the end it was the dry aged Delmonico steak that caught my eye and I was quite pleased that it was to come with roasted potatoes and condiments.
If the entree seemed a little undersized the main was the exact opposite, the steak was huge and the side of potatoes wasn’t exactly small either. The steak was ordered medium rare which on the bone can be a challenge to keep even. The chef did a pretty reasonable job and only the outer edge was more medium-well than medium-rare.
The condiments were fantastic. There are not many condiments better for a big piece of beef than chimichurri, and the LBDM version was spot on, while the green mustard was great. But surprisingly the potatoes were a bit of a let down, missing the roasted flavour and texture. They seemed to have been boiled then fried/roasted and were just a bit lacking.
Café & Caramelo – Mocha dome with candied peanuts and salted caramel ice cream ($16.00).
Feeling quite full after our mains we decided to share a dessert and Lex actually let me decide. It was the chance at a little coffee hit from the mocha dome that saw me choose the Café & Caramelo. The dome looked pretty cool with a fine sprinkling of what appeared to be coffee grounds but tasted more of chocolate than coffee.
The salted caramel ice cream tasted great but was definitely not ice cream; it was a fluffy and aerated more akin to a set mousse than a churned ice cream. The candied peanuts were moreish but the cylinder of peanut was so full on we could hardly finish it. The most redeeming part of the dish was the dome itself with a really nice quality chocolate and a wonderful texture. We were glad we shared this dish as it was so rich and would have never been finished by just one of us.
There is quite a lively atmosphere at LBDM with music playing in the background and the rum flowing. A band kicked off at around 8pm which was kind of cool and had we not needed to make a move we could quite easily have relocated to the bar after dinner and kicked on with a few more cocktails.
A Food Story dined as guests of La Bodeguita del Medio.
La Bodeguita del Medio
125 York St
SYDNEY NSW 2000
(02) 9264 4224
La Bodeguita del Medio Website