Good Food but very Casual Interior & Service
La Tasca (Trafford Centre Manchester)
Member Name: beauty88
La Tasca (Trafford Centre Manchester)
Advantages: Good food, interesting menu, good value,
Disadvantages: Slow service, casual interior, not that clean, tired looking furniture, bar-like feel
In case you haven't been to Trafford Centre before there is a huge area dedicated to dining called the Orient. It is joined onto the main building but is separate in some respects. You reach it through one of a few corridors which take you to it. It is shaped like a massive boat and is a vast space with sit down restaurants located on the top floor in individual spaces, then on the ground floor there are loads of fast food places with a huge communal seating area in the middle. La Tasca is located on the upper level quite near the back.
Parking in Trafford Centre is free and on-site.
I have been in La Tasca restaurants before and this is follows the same interior style as the others. It consists of dark wooden floors and walls with basic wooden furniture and Spanish style pictures and decorations throughout. It is relatively dimly lit giving it a relaxed atmosphere but there was enough light to see what you're eating. The tables built against the wall are booth style and have lots of bright Spanish style cushions to lean on. The music playing inside the restaurant is traditional Spanish music giving it a fun and authentic feel.
The interior is very relaxed and suited the kind of visit we made, but I think it may have felt too casual if you were going for a special occasion and dressing up. It also didn't feel that clean and new, I got the feeling most of the interior was quite old and well used and the tables were slightly sticky. There is no tablecloth, glasses or cutlery on the table when you get there, so it doesn't really have that nice restaurant feel and it felt obvious that we were eating in a more casual chain restaurant.
This particular restaurant is very spacious, from the outside it doesn't look that big but is enormous inside and stretches really far back. There are a lot of tables but they aren't too closely packed. There are around 6 tables "outside" but we preferred to be inside where there was more atmosphere. We were seated about half way through the restaurant on a circular table which could have easily seated four but felt a nice size for two people. It was positioned in such a way that we weren't directly facing or next to other diners. I did notice the actual tables for two were lined up closely next to eachother though so we had a lucky escape!
I went to the toilets while I was there and whilst they weren't the nicest toilets I've been in, they were surprisingly quite modern and clean and there was a nice hand wash and cream set at each basin which was a nice touch.
The restaurant doesn't really have a proper bar and I doubt they would have people in just for drinks, but there is a small bar area consisting of the bar itself and a few high tables and chairs opposite it. We were asked to wait there while they got our table ready but didn't actually order any drinks at that stage. When we got to our table we ordered a glass of Rose wine each. There was a choice of 3 Rose wines which were all a similar price. We went with the Arium Tempranillo-Granacha which is described as "soft and fruity rose with notes of strawberry jam and citrus. It cost £4.50 per small glass and was a really nice wine. It was also nicely chilled when it arrived. We also ordered a glass of tap water each which came quickly and chilled with ice.
La Tasca has a big menu consisting of small tapas dishes. We decided to order 3 dishes each and share between us. One of the dishes we chose was the Rustic Ciabatta Bread with Tomato (£3.25). We asked if this could be ordered as a starter so we could eat it separately. We were a bit disappointed when it arrived, there was one ciabatta bread cut in half and cooked, then the tomato sauce was separate in a little dish meaning you had to spread it on yourself, but there was hardly any of it so it didn't go very far and the bread ended up seeming quite dry. It would have been better if the sauce was already on the bread giving it time to soak in and ensuring there was enough of it.
We were sure to order Patatas Bravas (£3.35) which is something I always order when visiting La Tasca. It is cooked potato cubes served in a spicy tomato, basil and garlic sauce. The potato was nice and soft and it was a generous portion. The tomato sauce was plentiful and was nice and rich and full of flavour. We had the Empanadas de Carne (£4.35) which is puff pastry parcels filled with spicy minced beef and regato cheese. These were really good and different to anything I've tried before. The minced beef was tasty and was spicy as described, but I didn't really notice the regato cheese which I'm assuming was melted, so it was either very mild or there wasn't much of it.
We had the Croquetas de Pollo (£4.65) which is small chunks of chicken breast in croquettes and served with garlic mayonnaise. The croquettes were nice and crispy and the chicken inside tasted of a good quality. Initially the garlic mayonnaise part sounded a bit odd, but it went really well and I really enjoyed that part of it. I have chicken quite often at home so it can become a bit boring so I rarely order it in a restaurant, but this was a bit different and made a nice change. We ordered the Stuffed Aubergine Rolls (£4.65) which is aubergine stuffed with tomatoes, grilled peppers and goats cheese. These were really tasty and had much more flavour than I expected, they had clearly been really well seasoned. However the goats cheese wasn't very obvious and I couldn't really taste it which was a shame. The final dish we tried was Tortilla Espanola (£3.75) which is a Spanish omelette with red pepper tapanade and garlic mayonnaise. I'm not a great fan of omelette and this was my Mums choice, but I did try a little bit and it tasted really good and was well cooked. I'm just not keen on the texture of omelette so wasn't a great fan.
The food was all served in authentic looking Spanish bowls and plates which was nice, it would have been a bit disappointed if the food had arrived on boring white plates. It somehow made the food more enjoyable and suited the rest of the experience.
Overall the food was as described and all served fresh and hot and was full of flavour. The only disappointment was the ciabatta bread which needed more tomato sauce. The menu allowed for a nice variety of different foods which we enjoyed. The food we ordered was plenty for two people and made up the equivalent of two large main meals. The six dishes cost £24 in total which works out at £12 each which is reasonable for the amount of food we got.
The service was a bit hit and miss. When we arrived at the restaurant we waited for about 5 minutes at the front for someone to approach us. There were another two people behind us so it was obvious we were all waiting. I could see a girl who looked to be in charge rushing round and she caught me eye a few times and on the final time said she would be there in a minute. Luckily were patient and weren't in a rush otherwise we probably would have gone somewhere else. When she did finally come to us she asked us to sit at the bar, when we looked around we could see quite a lot of free tables which we were sure couldn't all be reserved. We only waited there about 5 minutes but it seemed odd that we couldn't just been seen straight to a table.
We were warned of a potential 20 minute wait on food when we first sat down and said we were fine with this. But in the end it wasn't the food which took ages, it was the time it took for our order to actually be taken. I think because we were seated at the bar area for 5 minutes with menus we had already decided what we wanted to eat quite early on so it felt like a long wait before we were asked what we want to eat. In the end I think we waited nearly 15 minutes at the table before our order was taken. But then the food arrived super quick after we placed the order. Therefore I'm quite certain the 20 minute delay stated was actually the fault of the waitresses rather than the kitchen.
Our waitress was, however, very polite and friendly which made up for the slow service. I think the restaurant had been very busy that night and there didn't appear to be too many waitresses so she had probably just been too busy.
By the time we were ready for the bill the restaurant had quietened down quite a bit so the bill was brought to us very quickly. We made a payment on card and a mobile card machine was brought to our table so the bill payment process was easy. The bill came to £33.00 and we left a few pounds as a tip. This was a very reasonable price for the 6 tapas courses and 2 glasses of wine and we were happy to pay this price.
The food was really good in this place which is the main thing and the value for money is really good. However I wouldn't necessarily rush to go back due to the fact that the service was lacking a bit and it just didn't quite have that restaurant feel inside and felt more like eating in a bar or pub and was perhaps a bit too casual. So I suppose it depends when you're going and for what occasion.
Because the restaurant is quite casual I would imagine it is suitable for children and families providing they are happy to eat the Spanish food on the menu.
132 The Orient,
The Trafford Centre
Tel: 0161 749 9966