A few Fridays ago, a friend and I were invited to an event at the Trafford Centre celebrating the launch of La Tasca’s new autumn/winter menu. The night promised a Paella masterclass, sangria and nibbles. How could we refuse?
We found ourselves wandering around the Trafford centre looking for La Tasca, eventually stumbling upon the quaint and colourful tapas bar that looked as though it had been supplanted straight from Spain.
Glasses of Buck’s Fizz in hand, we were greeted with platters of olives, various breads, cured meats and cheese, before moving on to the main attraction – the paella. We were talked through the process of traditional Valencian paella by Antonio Bennetto, who is the executive chef for La Tasca. Into the dish went a host of fresh ingredients, including garlic oil, diced chicken, squid, black tiger prawns and mussels, with majestic langoustines as a garnish. Admittedly, I’m not normally a die-hard fish lover, but I surprisingly enjoyed the paella. With squid as the one ingredient I couldn’t quite stomach, it can only be considered as a success.
The impression we got from all of the food and atmosphere was one of total authenticity – with research carried out by executive chefs across the whole Iberian Peninsula, and many ingredients also direct from that source. We spoke to the manager, who estimated around 80% of their produce is imported from Spain.
The brand itself, which has been around for a while, seems to be gradually re-launching itself as delivering authenticated Spanish cuisine with traditional methods adapted to suit a wide audience, simultaneously promoting an atmosphere open to everyone. This is the message that came through to us, 100 per cent. The food was excellent, the new menu was full of delicious and slightly meatier winter warmers – needed through the grizzly Manchester weather – and they also boast a wide range of gluten free and vegetarian dishes. The staff were all lovely, without exception, and they were keen to tell us how good the place is for groups, including private areas and bookings.
Later on in the evening La Tasca had live music, for their night called ‘Fiesta Fridays’ (which apparently also run on Thursdays), perfectly illustrating the quintessentially Spanish love of combining good food with good company.
I hate to sound as though I was bought by an evening of complimentary food and drink, but overall the experience was wonderful. The atmosphere warm and inviting, with all the hustle and bustle characteristic of a real Spanish tapas bar, but none of the pretence you might expect from a chain restaurant.