Where to La Bodega.
What for A mix of Basque and Uruguayan cuisine from husband-wife team Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo, inside a refurbished railcar on a lonesome Watertown street. The pair used to run the late, lamented Salts in Cambridge.
The scene Like you walked into Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” A couple nibble on tapas while taking turns holding a baby; their image is reflected in the railcar windows and backlit by soft yellow candles. Another couple sip wine and pick at a charcuterie plate. A group of friends stand in the doorway and look around appreciatively; Verolo whisks them deeper inside and settles them into a table. A couple of waiters in red jerseys joke behind the bar, trying to open a jug of lemons. Bremer and Verolo greet guests and offer to show them around. Outside, it’s dark, and there aren’t many cars on this street — there’s nothing but a brightly lit “La Bodega” sign to let you know you’re in the right place.
What you’re eating Small plates from a menu still in development (the restaurant has been softly open for dinner from Wednesday through Saturday since December): beef tongue with parsley and chopped eggs; deviled eggs with ham; potato and leek soup; grilled carrots in romesco sauce; roasted beets with sheep’s milk cheese and fried almonds; hearts of palm with cured ham and fried bread. Portions are smallish; about three plates per person works nicely. Vegetarians can eat well here.
Care for a drink? The cocktail menu is a work in progress, though a server promises that the restaurant has “two really professional bartenders who can make whatever you want.” Get creative, or go for wine, thoughtfully apportioned and gently priced by the glass, quarter bottle, half bottle, or full.
Overheard Enthusiastic greetings; earnest inquiries. “Make yourself at home! Anywhere!” Verolo tells a couple with a small child, who opt to situate themselves in the farthest reaches of the dining room. “Tell me, how do you feel about the empanadas?” a waiter asks a customer, pausing for the response. “Is it too warm in here? Too cold? Is the music too loud?” Verolo asks another diner. “Do you live in the area? I hope we’ll see you again,” says a waiter to a departing guest. A group of girlfriends arrive and get comfy. “This is my lucky table!” one announces.
21 Nichols Ave., Watertown,