Monday, 19 September 2011

La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar and Kitchen, Greek St, Leeds

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Entrance to La Tasca, Greek St, Leeds

Our Server Edu

El Menu del Dia es muy bueno

On entering La Tasca the space is bright and airy. The sense of lightness creates a cheery ambience and the air is buzzing with lunchtime conversation. There is a large bar to the right with a couple of full sized, dried hams hanging in authentic, Spanish fashion, a nice touch. We are offered a choice of seats by a very friendly waitress. On sitting we discover that our table is quite wobbly but this is soon rectified by the ever helpful staff.

Two menus are presented to us: A Menu Del Dia (Menu of the Day) at a very reasonable £5.95 which comprises a choice of two tapas and tomato bruschetta, although I’m not sure how Spanish the latter is? Also available was the main menu where tapas range from £2.95 to £7.50. I opt for the Menu of the Day, my companion (Mum) chooses three tapas from the a la carte (if you can call it that for tapas) including the £7.25 Fresh lamb cutlets with a crushed pistachio crust (Castilla).

To drink I opted for tap water, and there was no attempt to upsell to the bottled variety, which I was relieved about.  Mum had a raspberry and pomegranate fruitiser which was pronounced delicious. There was an extensive wine list and beers and spirits to choose from had we so wished.

When the food arrived it did so promptly and the highlight was the Pescado blanco frito (Malaga); white fish pieces in special San Miguel batter: Deliciously moist and flaky fish, melt in the mouth batter, well- seasoned, a flawless dish. My Mixed bean, orange and mint salad (Castilla) was arrestingly fresh and full flavoured, particularly pleasing were the baby broad beans, skins removed, which reminded me of the broad bean and bacon dish much favoured by the Spanish and often served as a tapas.

From Mum’s choice the Fresh lamb cutlets (Castilla) were perfectly cooked and the pistachio crust delicately flavoured although there was little evidence of the garlic and rosemary marinade. The Superfood salad (Cueta) was a good texture enhanced by pieces of creamy avocado, although there was an underlying flavour that couldn’t be identified, unusual but not unpleasant. Both salads were ideal for vegetarians or vegans. The Pork belly (Segovia) was a little disappointing as it had not absorbed any of the outstanding, garlic and tomato flavour from the wholesome rosemary, herb-scented beans it arrived in.

Although presented in small portions, as is the way with tapas, this lunch was filling and so we finished off with sorbet and ice cream respectively. These were refreshing and flavoursome. The vanilla ice cream was particularly impressive as it contained vanilla pod seeds which defined the flavour beautifully.

There are nods towards healthy eating here, which the Spanish are not renowned for, most notably no salt on the table, only pepper. Also a wide vegetarian choice and a variety of fresh salads including a super food one with quinoa and goji berries, probably inspired by Gillian McKeith! Additionally beans and pulses are used liberally in the cooking and there are a number of gluten free options on the menu.

I would strongly recommend the Menu of the Day as being excellent value. The atmosphere created here in the new La Tasca is bright, lively and warm. Additionally the staff  are lovely, really helpful. Our server was Edu and he was efficient and charming, one of two members of staff from Spain. Some of the dishes may be considered a little on the pricey side but you are paying for innovation and presentation plus good quality ingredients.

This is a very different experience to Spanish tapas in Spain, and I speak from experience having just returned from holiday in “Spanish” Spain and living in Madrid for a while. This is not rustic, peasant food saturated in garlic and olive oil it is much more refined and apparently a great deal healthier.

The new La Tasca re-opened with a flurry of flamenco dancers and lunch here feels like a tango on the tongue!

La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar and Kitchen

Greek Street

Leeds LS1

Menu Del Dia and other tapas

Sorbet and ice cream for desert

Inside La Tasca, Leeds

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I have always enjoyed problem solving for friends and family and as a teacher for the last 18 years this is part of what I do every day. During the last year I have been rediscovering a passion for writing and I have recently produced a short story and several reviews for my blog - Places to visit and eat/drink in Leeds, Yorkshire UK. I am also offering my services as a freelance writer.