Hot on the heels of our delicious week in Tenerife we were invited to try the new winter menu at La Tasca in Leeds. Unfortunately we were unable to attend the paella masterclass with the Group’s head chef (they are part of a rather large chain) up from London. We were subsequently invited to come and try the menu on a normal evening. We’d never been to La Tasca before so we took up the offer with no preconceptions.
First impressions of La Tasca are good – light, bright, modern interiors very much like the sort of contemporary place you might find in Valencia or Madrid. Midweek was fairly quiet and it’s location is certainly a very competitive one – Greek Street is wall to wall restaurants, most of them chain operations.
To start we shared a plate of cured meats with manchego, bread and olives. All very good I have to say with bread nice and fresh. We then ordered from the new menu a range of tapas dishes – pigs cheek, padron peppers (our favourite of course), pork and chicken meatballs and a chicken & chorizo affair. Feeling greedy we also ordered a seafood paella which we were assured wouldn’t be too much food – I always over order with tapas.
Service was quick and attentive but then they did know I was a blogger which I always think makes a difference. All the food came at the same time which worked OK, but we did say that we’d be happy to have Tapas then paella, but no drama. I do like how in Spain all the dishes come out randomly spaced out time wise depending on how bothered the chef is! We’re a bit too wedded to our three courses in this country for my taste, but hey.
Successes were: pig cheek (tender and sweet) padron peppers (although under seasoned) and the seafood paella. The other dishes were a little bland for me and I wasn’t expecting the paella to be close the standard of the one recently in Masia del Mar in Tenerife, but it was pretty good actually – although the shellfish on top were dried out by the heat.
We came away thinking we would definitely return to La Tasca, particularly on a weekend lunchtime where we thought it perfect for a lazy lunch and few glasses of wine. It brings me back to the old debate about chains versus independents again but my view has always been that if a chain restaurant is doing a good job and filling a gap in the market then it will succeed. And I do think that La Tasca is doing that very well indeed. Although city centre mid-range restaurant competition is fierce, there is very little ‘Spanish’ competition in the city (other than South American Tapas places like Viva Cuba), it will continue to flourish under its new brand and revived menu.
La Tasca is a bright, breezy and unpretentious city centre restaurant perfect for everything from a tricky first date or office leaving do. It has the backing of a chain to get the ingredients and service right and although the food isn’t the best in Leeds, it’s of a high standard and certainly caters for a certain crowd that will keep coming back for more on this evidence.