Tuesday, May 1, 2018
La Bodega By Salts: Compelling Uruguayan Cuisine in Watertown
La Bodega by Salts, located in Watertown is owned by Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo, the former owners of the famed Cambridge restaurant, Salts, which offered upscale French cuisine. Back in 2014, a serious flood within the restaurant led to its closure. Gabriel and Analia considered what to do next, eventually finding a potential location in Watertown. However, they didn't believe that a similar concept to Salts would fit their new location so they opted for Uruguayan cuisine, reflective of Analia's homeland. The main idea was to offer wood-fired, farm-to-table cuisine with a primary influence from Uruguay and other influences from Spain.
I was invited to visit the restaurant by Alexander Griffiths, the export manager for Bodega Garzón, an Uruguayan winery. We sampled numerous dishes while tasting wines from his portfolio. I'll be discussing those wines in another post in the near future.
Somehow they found a way to pull all of the pieces together, furnishing the restaurant, hiring staff, gathering all of the necessary licenses, and much more. They succeeded in opening within fifteen days and I'm sure many of other restaurant owners would have failed in a similar situation. With this rush, they couldn't put together everything in place as they wanted it to be. So, since their opening, they have been working on everything else, such as trying to garner sufficient staff, and creating the menus they desire. Currently, they are only open during the evening, Wednesday to Saturday. In the future, they want to open from Monday to Saturday, and be open for lunch as well.
I didn't witness any issues, in either service or the cuisine, during my visit. Whatever issues they still have weren't readily visible. My visit was on a Friday evening and the restaurant was packed, a good sign that the restaurant has already earned a good reputation. Based on my own experiences, I too would provide a hearty recommendation for La Bodega.
You'll find an interesting list of beers as well as 4 ciders ($6-$9), including 2 from Spain, 1 from New York, and 1 from Boston. There are 8 wines available by the glass ($9-$16), with 3 from Uruguay, 3 from Spain, 1 from France, and 1 from California. Those wines are also broken down into 1 Sparkling Wine, 1 Rosé, 3 Whites, and 3 Reds. There are also 6 Vermouth by the glass ($9-$10), including 2 from Spain, 1 from Italy and 1 from France. The bottle list begins with a list of about 30 Uruguay wines, from five wineries including Bodegas Carrau, Bodegas Cerro Chapeu, Bodegas Bouza, Familias Deicas, and Bodegas Garzon. The rest of the wine list includes numerous wines from the cellar of Salts as well as others, with a diverse selection from all over the world.
Bodega Garzón olive oil, a blend of Arbequina and Coratina olives. The food menu contains about 25 dishes, mostly small plates with a couple larger dishes. Dishes are priced from $4-$27, with 10 dishes priced at $10 and under while only 2 dishes are priced over $20. Much of the menu are Uruguayan specialties while other dishes have a Spanish influence. There is plenty of variety and everyone should be able to find several dishes that appeal to them, whether they seek vegetable or meat dishes. Overall, each dish is large enough for two people, if not more, to share. I'm a big fan of small plates as I like to experience the diversity of the menu and don't mind sharing. Please note that the menu is subject to change.
We enjoyed every dish we ordered, which were all well-prepared and possessed of balanced flavors. Much of the menu could be considered comfort food, the type of food that just pleases the belly. The drinks list is compelling as well, and if I lived closer to Watertown, I might be a regular at the bar. This is a worthy successor to Salts, though the cuisine is very different. I love Analia's passion for her heritage, and Uruguayan cuisine certainly deserves a place in our culinary scene. I strongly recommend you check out La Bodega, and I'll report back again when I revisit the restaurant.