Café Bodega, pricey but worth it

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Dain Holter

Café Bodega is a new, eclectic restaurant that took the place of Sweet Water Café.

On the outside, the building has minimal changes. When you walk through the doors, however, it’s a whole new place. The walls are repainted, and where a bakery used to rest there is now a bar. The restaurant offers a calm and inviting atmosphere that is not rough around the edges—everything is clean and uniform while still welcoming. The walls have plenty of artwork hanging about and the tall ceilings give you plenty of room to think.

Café Bodega serves up a good variety of food without the menu being overwhelming. It has five basic sections: breakfast, lunch, salads, entrees and shared plates. Several Sweet Water classics, like the huevos rancheros and the cranberry cheddar turkey sandwich, still remain on the menu, but new items, like the Thai chicken wings, add a refreshing twist.

The Bodega tries to do as much as it can in-house, as well as source locally when possible. Juices are fresh-squeezed daily. The dressings are made in-house. Its sausage comes from Seeds & Spores Family Farm. All the beef comes from Four Seasons Farm, and all whitefish comes fresh from Thill’s Fish House.

To start the meal, I got the Thai chicken wings for $12. The appetizer showed up as I was ordering my entrée, so Bodega’s timing was excellent.

The plate had six chicken wings, pan-fried and tossed in garlic Thai sauce, all atop a bed of Asian slaw. The chicken wings were definitely on the smaller side, only two to three bites each. For $12 I was expecting more, but everything at the Bodega seems a little pricey.

The Thai garlic sauce is sweet and savory. (I personally would prefer a hotter sauce but I understand that food around here isn’t really spicy. I like to call it “Yooper spicy.”) The chicken wings were cooked perfectly and the cold Asian slaw underneath was a perfect accompaniment.

The cleanliness of the restaurant carries over to the food. The appetizer plate looked clean and tidy, like it was well thought out.

For my entrée, I ordered the lemon butter Lake Superior whitefish for $18. There’s also Cajun, panko and Bodega1.Online.ET if you’re looking to spice up your fillet.

The plate is simple but elegant—broiled whitefish with lemon butter and fresh herbs, served with large brussel sprouts and a wild rice pilaf. It’s exactly what you would expect from a whitefish dish. The lemon and butter together add flavor but don’t overpower the delicate taste of the fish.

Again, the plate carried a clean taste that is hard to perfect when seasoning whitefish. It was just enough seasoning to enhance but not take away from the fish’s flavor. The whole entrée was simple and delicious.

I believe that service is the most important aspect of any restaurant. If the service isn’t top notch, you can’t expect a top notch dining experience. Café Bodega gives you the dining experience you expect, from top to bottom. Our waiter made sure every angle was covered, from walking through the door, to ensuring our meal was everything we expected and even making us feel welcomed while offering service that made me feel we had our waiter’s undivided attention.

Overall, I would go to Café Bodega again, maybe not every day because of the cost, but the variety on the menu is nice and the service is something you don’t see much of around Marquette. I can go into the restaurant and not feel I’m being profiled as a college student. Every customer should be treated equally, and the Café Bodega does just that.