Tucked away in one corner of Meadowhall’s food hall is a little oasis of sunshine.
You’ve probably passed La Tasca Spanish tapas restaurant many times and just assumed it was yet another chain doing fair to middling on a plate. But if you love the gutsy and robust flavours of Spanish food and wine, make it a summer destination.
The La Tasca chain - it’s over 40 strong and there’s another branch on Ecclesall Road - went through a restructure last year and the emphasis is now firmly on authenticity. It has a bespoke wine list - the team visit small vineyards in Spain to bring back quality finds like rare white Riojas and fashionably dry sherry - and its dishes are made with “the best ingredients” sourced in Spain.
The husband knows Spain well -he’s always telling me how different it is to the crowded Costas I remember. He’s partial to trendy tapas bars; knows how to say chorizo and paella properly - and pronounced the delectable little plates on our table just as good as those he’d sampled in Andalucia.
We’d eyed the £9.95 a head meal deal which gets you a starter and three tapas each, but had greedily spotted more we fancied on the regular menu, which takes some wading through. We started with chunky bread and olive oil with a dense pool of balsamic at its heart (£2.25 to share) and found an £11.65 carafe of gorgeously fruity, almost sweet Torres Vina Sol worked really well with the rich, pungent flavours in our tapas dishes.
Chorizo with morcilla, a new dish at £4.95, married smoked paprika sausage with fire-roasted peppers and onions and little balls of soft Spanish black pudding. Stuffed aubergine Rolls, a Murcia dish, had sweet piquillo peppers, melting goat’s cheese and a rich tomato sauce oozing from aubergine parcels (£3.56).
Spanish lemon chicken and vegetables (£4.75) was my favourite. The sweetness of soft roasted red peppers turned the lemon flavours almost to caramel. Delicious.
The main course we were sharing came with them - an £11.95 black rice Paella Negra, heavy with soft rings of squid and wedges of lemon. Its taste was simple and earthy and I’m glad we shared - there was still more than we could eat.
Our bill came to £40 but because I’d signed up to La Tasca’s rewards card, there was 20 per cent off the food - so we paid only £34.33.
On Father’s Day there’s a special £14.95 menu, which gets dad a free pint of draught beer (kids eat for £5.95). Or men with big appetites can take the Dad vs. Paella Fathers’ Day challenge and tackle a whole sharing paella for two. If he eats it in 15 minutes he gets it for free.
BY JO DAVISON
My star ratings out of five:
WHERE AND WHEN:
La Tasca 3A The Oasis, Meadowhall Shopping Centre
CONTACT: 0114 2569986
DETAILS: Open 9.30am-10.30pm mon-Sat, 9.30am-8.30pm Sun.