“Do you want a basket of chips, or something?”
(Bodega Bar, Corn Market Street, Cork. 1:28 p.m.)
Serving us well as it did last summer I’m back, alone, and sitting, waiting for a pint, listening to a blend of music and chatter. It is definitely more a place for the aspiring classes – accents on the verge of posh, and people’s demeanours suggesting similar. If I were to make comparisons with Budapest, The Bodega would be to the trendy pub what the Vicarstown* would be to the kocsmas. One difference I’d like to note is that in Ireland old and young blend better and in more locations, be they trendy or not; the super-pub pre-club atmosphere excepted, which is the same everywhere.
The Bodega, itself, is situated on Corn Market Street but the market itself, now face-lifted – probably from local government coffers – tells a tale that goes back hundreds of years. To Corkonians this area is the Coal Quay, pronounced Kay, or Coal Quay Market, alluding as much to a time when the river would come in as far as here. “The Venice of the North” or so some people say, referring to the many waterways which once riddled this city. They still do, mind you, but all beneath asphalt and concrete.
Set in an old stone building, the high ceilings and fine decoration of The Bodega’s interior may be off-putting but with a fine selection of food as well as drink one must remember that this is not just a pub – it’s a fine food establishment. With barbeques on weekends and a full smoking area this is definitely one of the gems. The walls abound with local artistic talent and though it may be above the pockets of the artistic equivalents in Budapest it is the class in which both countries’ artistic elite flourishes. The patrons come aplenty, but abegging, in the gutter! I’ve sometimes accused Budapest and Hungary of artistic snobbery, but nevertheless it seems somewhat more affordable than hereabouts. Folk – now that’s a different story.
Sitting here, 1p.m. –ish, there is a healthy lunchtime crowd with 50% of the floor’s tables full. For a place with a reputation to higher prices this is quite good, and with the turnover lunchtime a steady flow this is no money losing enterprise. You’d hope!
Evenings and weekends do find this place brimming with revellers because it’s then that it forsakes its eatery for full-on pub/club potential. But again this is evening-till-late so come in afternoon time and you can have the best of both worlds. In the back there is a restaurant area which allows one to recline in the intimacy of an evening romantic meal, if that’s one’s wish.
On the whole a spacious environment full of the clatter and bang of a busy establishment. If I were to imagine a comparison I would say the coffee houses of Vienna and Budapest turn of the 20th century, but with the savoury and beer that gives it its Irish twist.
Potato and Leek soup 4.90 euro;
Beef and Mi Daza** stew 10.90euro;
Pan-fried sea bass, crushed baby potatoes, dill and butter 13.50 euro
[Beamish 4.10 euro]
See link below for more on the meaning of ‘Mi Daza’ and other Irish slang words