La Tasca, 4 Russell Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5PT.
4 Russell Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 5PT, UK
La Tasca are a chain of Spanish tapas restaurants. Tapas are hot and cold snacks whose name is derived from the Spanish word "tapar" meaning "to cover." One explanation is that tapas were originally slices of bread or meat that were used to cover drinks to keep flies off them.
The main entrance to this restaurant is on Greek Street in Leeds. There is another, sometimes open, entrance on Russell Street at the other end of the restaurant. There are a lot of other dining places in this part of Leeds, including the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Loch Fyne. Nearby parking consists of limited, and quite expensive, street parking as well as some, also quite expensive, car parks close by.
The restaurant has a bar and, upon entering, you are shown to a table. La Tasca was visited on a Saturday lunchtime and was fairly quiet, with only a few tables with customers.
The Main Menu is not actually divided into courses such as starters and mains, as very few dishes would actually be suitable as an entire meal for one person, exception of some of the paellas and the whole baked fish. Instead, you would order several different dishes per person, each of which would be brought out on its own plate(s), combining the dishes to make a full meal. One section is called Breads, Sharers and Nibbles and these could be considered to be starter dishes.
There are a variety of different dishes, mostly divided into seafood, meat, vegetables and salads as well as paellas and one pot dishes. There are also a number of set menus, which contain a specified selection of dishes. Many of dishes have the Spanish region listed after their name, showing their origin.
Two drinks were ordered, a 330ml bottle of Coca-Cola and a 750ml bottle of Strathmore Sparkling Mineral Water. as both of these drinks came in bottles, they were fine With the tapas all being in separate dishes, two plates were also brought out so that the tapas could be transferred from their own dishes to eat them.
The first dish was the Tabla Española for Two which is, as it says, for two people. This is a cold dish and was from the Breads, Sharers and Nibbles section of the menu, which could be considered to be starters, even though it isn't labelled as such. The Tabla Española was served on a wooden board and consisted of 4 slices of Serrano ham, 4 slices each of two different Spanish chorizo sausages, three pieces of bread, which were covered with olive oil, an extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar dip and a small container of green and black olives, still with the stones, in olive oil, as well as garlic cloves. According to the menu, there should have been Manchego cheese on the platter, but there wasn't any.
This was a nice selection of Spanish meats, and the bread was quite fresh. The dip was nice, although only the bread could really be dipped in it. The wooden platter was an interesting serving dish.
The remaining dishes were from the Tapas to Share part of the menu.
The first dish from this section was Calamares (Andalucía), which was squid rings in batter, which were lightly sprinkled with sea salt. There was also a small dish of sauce with the squid. Although the sauce was unnamed, it was probably a seafood sauce of some description. Squid can often be a bit rubbery in texture, especially if it is overcooked. This was in between; not quite rubbery, but not as good as it is at its best. Getting it just right is fairly difficult.
The next was Pescado Blanco Frito (Malaga), which was four pieces of an unspecified white fish which had been deep fried in a San Miguel batter. The fish also came with a portion of sauce on the plate, which seemed to be the same one that came with the calamares. The fish was fresh and cooked perfectly, and the batter was quite light.
A paella was ordered, a small one from the tapas section, and this was Paella del Dia (Valencia). This is the paella of the day, and will therefore vary. It was the carne variant that was also available as a larger portion, and this paella was done with chicken and chorizo.
There was not much chicken or chorizo in the paella and, except for them, the dish was rather bland in taste.
One vegetable dish was ordered, A Festival of Mushroom (Rioja), which consisted of small, by the looks of it button, mushrooms, which were halved or quartered and were sautéed in garlic butter and white wine. There was plenty of sauce and this dish tasted very strongly of the garlic it was cooked in.
All the staff seen were actually Spanish. The chain has apparently been attempting to increase the proportion of Spanish staff, to give the restaurants a more genuine feel. The total for the meal came to £32.95 for two people, including drinks.
An advantage with tapas is that as much or as little as desired can be ordered. As there are no true courses, should you still be hungry after the initial order, you can easily order more. If, on the other hand, you just want a light meal, one or two tapas dishes can be ordered instead. You just have to be careful that you don't order too many dishes, something that is quite easy to do, which can both increase the price of the meal and leave you with more food than you can eat. It can be better to place orders for the dishes at intervals, rather than all at the same time, if you are unsure as to how much you actually want to have.
The dishes themselves were a bit variable, with the Paella del Dia being the worst, but this was only from the point of view of taste, there was nothing wrong with it otherwise, and the Tabla Española for Two the best. The service was fast and the dishes themselves all looked nice. The location itself is quite pleasant. This is not the best, or the cheapest, place to eat in the area, but it is quite nice and worth a visit.