I’m always a bit skeptical about chain restaurants. Ok, the food isn’t usually bad, but after frequenting places like Strada, Ask and Prezzo in my youthfull, inexperienced food days, I have become disillusioned with the whole process. It’s not one particular thing that annoys me about them, it’s just that the food is always mediocre, the atmosphere is non-existent and the decor is exactly the same no matter what branch you visit.
I’d already visited the Las Tasca in Victoria, so when I was invited to the one in Leandenhall Market, I basically expected it to be very similar. The Leadenhall La Tasca for a start is a lot smaller and more intimate. You’ll find it up the top of some stairs in the centre of the market, and the decor is completely different to the Victoria one. The managers at this branch have managed to give it a warm, homely feel that will remind you of a small taverna you have come across on some far away travels.
We were seated at a window seat, which had lovely views of Leadenhall market, which, despite more or less passing it every day,I had never been to. As you would expect from a Spanish restaurant, the wine list is selected well. It’s not big enough to be intimidating, but just big enough to have a great choice. I always go for a Tempranillo or a Pinot Noir. I basically know nothing about wine apart from the fact you can easily ruin Coq Au Vin with a cheap Pinot Noir and Tempranillo is quite strong and stops me from going overboard because it takes a while to drink. I had a large glass of the El Pugal Tempranillo, which was a fabulous accompaniment to my meal.
Actually choosing the food, I thought would be easy, because I’d been before, but another thing that was different about this La Tasca was the menu. One thing I did remember about my last trip, was how gutted I was that my Mum got a Paella and I didn’t, because it was incredibly tasty. This time around, I went for the Paella De Carne, which was Chicken and Chorizo. Now you may think this dish is quite straightforward, and easy to do, but trust me there’s a lot that can go wrong. I’ve had many a dish like this that have been overcooked and under flavoured, leaving you chewing a piece of chicken that is dry as a Nun’s chuff for hours. La Tasca hit it spot on. The chicken and the chorizo were cooked perfectly, in the way that they ‘pop’ in your mouth when you eat them. Paella rice is a bit of a challenge as well, but both times I have been, they have got it perfect. There’s just a hint of the smoky, paprika flavour that mediterranean dishes do so well, but not so much that it overwhelms the natural flavours of the dish.
I didn’t get a dessert, mainly because I was full to the brim, but the menu is varied in this respect as well.
La Tasca, Leadenhall Market is located directly inside the market. A meal for two with drinks will cost you around £50 – £60 depending on what you drink. Tables can be booked ahead on their website.