Those who are long time readers of Pop.Bop.Shop. know that every Thursday night I have dinner with one of my best friends from college. We've been dining together on Thursdays for 11 years. She lives in Brighton and is always keeping an eye out for new places in the neighborhood. A few months ago she excitedly told me, "The restaurant group that owns Devlin's bought the space next door that used to be Mandy and Joe's!" For the last few weeks she's been watching like a hawk, waiting for it to open. Last week, during their third week in business, we popped in for dinner.
That space that was home to Mandy and Joe's since the 1960s has re-opened with a new look and a new name - Brighton Bodega.
We arrived at 6:00pm and were seated right away in the back dining room, which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Devlin's patio. Our table had the most beautiful natural light.
The decor inside reminded me of Twelve Hours in Oak Square. Both spaces have that LEGO-like wall, exposed brick and a round, black logo.
We settled into our table and were greeted by our server, Yasmine. She brought us some crisps and dip to nosh on while we scoured the menu.
The crisps tasted like a thinner version of Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips. We made them disappear rather quickly.
Brighton Bodega has a really fun drink menu, including a section called Bodega Setups, which are all beer and shot combinations. There is some serious bro potential at this place.
It was a gorgeous, warm, summer night so we decided to share a bottle of rosé. Brighton Bodega offers one rosé, Domaine des Cheres, which was described as "funky red cherry finished with watermelon." Don't mind if we do!
The wine was sweet, but not overly so. It was served nice and cold, which was wonderfully refreshing on that hot night.
With wine in hand, we were ready to make some decisions on food. The menu is mostly small plates, which is ideal for sharing. We selected three dishes and the first to arrive was the edamame and basil pot stickers.
The dish was presented so elegantly, with a ribbon of pickled ginger in the center.
The pot stickers come three to an order. We each loved the freshness and brightness of the filling and the salty flavor from the pool of soy sauce at the bottom of the bowl.
Next we sampled the potatoes with loaded sour cream. This was an absolutely enormous portion! There were easily enough potatoes for four people. This would be the perfect thing to order during a football game.
The dish tastes like the classic, loaded, baked potato, but you get to savor those flavors in much smaller bites.
I have to say, I was disappointed that the loaded sour cream had bacon in it. I was hoping it was just cheddar cheese and chives, as the menu description gave no indication there was any meat in the dish. I took one bite of the sour cream and I knew right away I had just tasted bacon (the saltiness gives it away every time). Thankfully, our amazing waitress Yasmine was able to convince the kitchen to give me a side of plain sour cream so I could still enjoy the dish.
Our third choice was the deep fried burrata cheese, which came swimming in a sea of San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with parmesan cheese and basil.
Let's be honest, how could anyone read the words 'deep fried burrata' and not order that? After her first bite, my dinner date commented, "This is like a grownup mozzarella stick." That is actually the perfect explanation!
We devoured the fried burrata and found ourselves with over half of the tomato sauce left. We suggested to Yasmine that this dish would be even better if it came with toast or crostini to soak up the remaining sauce. Before we had even finished the thought, she had turned on her heels and headed to the kitchen. Moments later she returned with toast!
With the plates cleared, it was time to decide if we wanted dessert. We were rather intrigued by one option in particular, the frozen Mexican hot chocolate with peanut butter cookies. The dish arrived with the frozen hot chocolate in an espresso glass, with a large cookie next to it.
Curious, we dipped our spoons into the whipped cream and chocolate. The Mexican chocolate had that delicious signature kick. That flavor always reminds me of Taza Chocolate in Somerville. The whipped cream was unbelievably fresh and billowy.
I hate to say it, but on its own, the peanut butter cookie was way too dry. Dunked in the Mexican chocolate, it was fantastic, but it really couldn't stand alone. It reminded me of the cookies at Article 24.
While we were dipping our cookie into the chocolate, my friend had a genius idea. She said, "They should really freeze that Mexican chocolate into ice cream and then use these peanut butter cookies to make it into an ice cream sandwich." Brilliant!
Minus the bacon in the sour cream incident, I really loved Brighton Bodega. The location is excellent, the space is huge, the service is fantastic and the food is really delicious. And as Yasmine said to us when we first sat down, "You don't have to feel guilty or like you are cheating on Devlin's, because it's all in the family."
It is also worth noting that throughout our meal, Travis, the general manager, popped over to check on us. He was never intrusive, just genuinely wanted to hear how we were liking the wine and the food. I really appreciated the attention he was giving to each and every table.
Brighton Bodega is open seven days a week, 5pm - 1am.