Newest Review: ... small dishes and sampling different things. There is quite a wide range of Tapas available including meat, fish, salads, and vegetable d... more
The UKs leading tapas chain
La Tasca Restaurants (in general)
Member Name: cerys82
La Tasca Restaurants (in general)
Advantages: Good special offers, decent food
Disadvantages: Lack of seasonal dishes, paella isn't that great
La Tasca restaurants are probably the leading chain of Spanish food in the UK. Found in many city centres and larger towns, they specialise in tapas food.
The interiors of the restaurants is very mock Spanish. There is a lot of dark wood mixed with bright coloured crockery and painted walls, the tapas are served in traditional terracotta style dishes. A lot of the restaurants also have a bar which is slightly set away from the main eating area and well stocked. In the evenings the tables are often candlelit.
For starters there is a selection of dishes such as breads, dips and olives. I can particularly vouch for the 'pan de barra' - dipping bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A great light starter to share before the main meal.
As regards the tapas there is a fairly wide selection of dishes you can choose from. My favourites are as follows:
Pollo con salsa - chicken breast and sliced mushrooms, in a rich sherry, white wine & cream sauce.
Patatas bravas - fried potato, with a spicy tomato sauce.
Chorizo Frito Al Vino - spicy Spanish sausage, flavoured with paprika, garlic and herbs, sautéed in red wine. (simple but really, really tasty - my favourite)
Calamares Andaluza - deep-fried squid with garlic mayonnaise and fresh lemon.
ALBÓNDIGAS A LA JARDINERA - meatballs with tomato sauce (surprisingly substantial)
Alitas de pollo - chicken wings
Pollo Marbella - Chicken, cooked with paprika, chorizo, sweet peppers, onion and a white wine & cream sauce.
PATATAS BRAVAS CON QUESO - Fried potato, with melted cheese and a spicy tomato sauce
TORTILLA ESPAñOLA - Spanish-style omelette, with potato and onion.
The above is only a small selection of the dishes on offer, and I would recommend that a selection of 5 would provide a nice meal for two, and give you a little room for experimentation other. Other than what I have listed above there are several salads available as well as varieties of meat and seafood paella. The paellas are also available as main meals - however I personally would not recommend them as they really are not anything special and you can get more satisfying and substantial dishes from the taps menu.
The desserts menu has a variety of products ranging from sorbet , ice cream, to Spanish style apple pie, fruit with sauce. There is a lot of chocolate on the menu in the form of sauces or torte style dishes.
As regards drinks, I personally always have their staple Sangria when I go there. Light and fresh it is a really good accompaniment and available in a pitcher or by the glass. There is also a more expensive Sangria available which is made from Cava as well as cocktails such as Woo Woo and Long Island Ice Tea. Also, alongside the predominantly Spanish wine and lagers there is a good selection of traditional Spanish sherries (as opposed to Croft or Harvey Bristol styles!). More bitter in flavour than British offerings, they make a good accompaniment to desserts I have found or as an after dinner drink (I know that they are traditionally an aperitif but this is how i like them best.)
Now onto prices. Whilst there are set menus of two courses and a drink for £15 to £19, I have never tried these preferring to enjoy their other well publicised special offers. Although it can vary according to each restaurants , Tapas for a tenner is their most significant one Tapas for a tenner/ lunch for 2 for £10 (5 tapas for £10). With this you can often top this up with other components for a good price eg bread and oil for £1 and a bottle of house wine for £7.50 - providing you with a hearty albeit slightly boozy meal for under £20.
If you keep an eye out you can also often find 50% off vouchers on voucher code websites, moneysavingexpert.com and particularly if you register on their website (www.latasca.co.uk) they will email you promotions. Please note that at the time of writing (January 2010), they no longer accept Tesco Clubcard vouchers.
So the verdict then. All-in-all I have really enjoyed dining at La Tasca restaurants. The food, particularly when on offer, is good value and satisfying. In my opinion it works just as well as a place to go for lunch as well as the evening. The food in general is really nice and although the portions appear small when arriving in Tapas bowls, they are surprisingly satisfying. It is also a nice place to go if you just fancy a Sangria and a dessert. In my opinion it is only really the paella that does not really match up to expectations.
Of course, you do not get the depth of flavour or quality ingredients that you would get from a good independent Spanish restaurant but as a reasonably priced introduction to Spanish food you cannot go wrong with this. In general, I have always found the customer service to be very good and the staff amenable and helpful. It is fair to say that they do not vary the dishes on their menu very much except for special menus for events such as Valentines Day. I personally would like to see more seasonal dishes put on the menu if only for a limited time in order for me to be encouraged to go back more often
However, weighing up the pros and cons, I do see La Tasca restaurants as ones that would be on my regular rotation of chain outlets that I would visit and enjoy.
Summary: A great introduction into reasonably priced tapas