Tapas is one of my favourite things. You can try any number of dishes that take your fancy without being too greedy and getting odd looks for ordering three main courses. La Tasca asked me if I would be interested in reviewing their new opening in Newbury. I wasn’t sure whether to do it at first as I tend to stay clear of chain restaurants but I thought I should give it a try to see what it’s like. I also thought it would be interesting as it’s a place that some of you may have been to or may go to so hopefully you can relate to it more than an independent restaurant.
After being seated at a slightly unfortunate table next to the leaking ceiling (not their fault, these things happen) we perused the menu. It’s easy to understand and divided accordingly: starters, meat, fish, vegetables, salads and specials. We started with manchego cheese and tomatoes and a selection of bread. If you’ve read my previous reviews you may know how upset I get when people use balsamic syrup in place of balsamic vinegar with oil. I thought this only occurred with balsamic vinegar and was surprised to find that the sherry vinegar with the bread was in fact syrup. The olive oil was flavourful so I was able to abandon the syrup and enjoy the oil alone. The breads were nice, the best one being that which came in the paper bag below; it was like a warm, herby cracker.
We weren’t too sure what to order but as far as I’m concerned you can’t have tapas without patatas bravas and paella. To accompany these non negotiable dishes we also had: steak with mushrooms and sherry jus, San Miguel battered fish, goat’s cheese salad, pork belly and bean stew and mushrooms with white wine.
We picked quite a good selection as the steak was rich and the sauce sweet; it wasn’t what I would call a jus as it was really creamy but the flavours were as anticipated. The paella was salty and stodgy but in a good way, the way you want it to be. The patatas bravas were spicier than those I’ve had before so they were good at cutting through the other flavours. The mushrooms were both earthy and light and a nice addition to the side of the plate.
Having a salad was a good choice as the freshness was essential to cut through the other flavours and richness. My favourite thing was the San Miguel battered fish; it was really light and crisp. If I thought my waist wouldn’t suffer too much I would have ordered another. The best and, for me, the most Spanish thing of all was the pork belly. The pork was flavourful and cooked wonderfully and the bean stew was the colour and texture that I wanted it to be. I would enjoy this in the autumn served in a big generous bowl with great chunks of bread.
Churros had to be dessert. I was surprised I had room for them but I managed it. The churros were warm, sweet and crisp. I thought the marshmallows were unnecessary but the strawberries provided a welcome freshness. The chocolate sauce was a little thin but if it had been richer and thicker I’m pretty sure I’d have left feeling far too full.
Overall I liked the meal and the staff were great. The menu takes dietary requirements into account making it very clear which meals are vegetarian and gluten free. The menu also gave a nod towards the region of Spain that it originates from. I have to say that the menu design is one of best I’ve used, ordering tapas can be a bit of a minefield but they have divided it up very sensibly and it’s very easy to know where you stand. I tend to be quite a greedy person and my advice is that three tapas dishes per person really are enough.
La Tasca has since closed since this post went up.
This meal was paid for by La Tasca. All opinions expressed are my own.