My Food Place of the Week - La Tasca Barclaycard Arena

The last time I visited La Tasca was over 5 years ago, at the branch just off Broad St. The food was in small portions and I was still hungry, after paying 40 pounds for 2 of us and this was before my lactose intolerance got bad. So when I got invited to try out the new menu, I was a little intrigued but had low expectations, as I haven't tried tapas since then.

The branch I visited has been open since March and is located within the newly refurbished Barclaycard Arena, aka the NIA. The decor and colours were what I would reckon a cantina in Spain would look like and it look beautiful in the sunshine. I especially liked the exposed low hanging lighting and how unpretentious the whole place looked.

I went through the menu with the manager to see what could be adapted and what was already dairy-free. There were a number of options on the menu, which was great because you can't get that everywhere. Then from that I selected a couple of things.

Now, onto to the food.

First up, Rustic Bread with Tomato.
The bread was soft but yet crunchy and worked well with the tomato sauce. I feel like it was slightly basic but the flavours worked well with the high quality bread and I liked the rustic presentation.

Langostinos was my next dish, this is Wild Patagonian tiger prawns, salt-baked over a piping-hot plancha.
Now this got a little messy and there is no neat way to eat it, you have just got to get in there. The tiger prawns were heated to perfection but again I felt that special x-factor was missing but it was tasty all the same.

Now this Beetroot, Carrot and Butternut Squash Salad was to die-for.
I loved the mixture altogether but maybe instead of the lettuce, chunky bits of beetroot, carrot and butternut squash around the edges would finish it off beautifully and would've added even more colour. But I liked this as a little palette cleanser between all the fishy dishes.

Boquerones en Vinagre aka anchovies.
I have never had anchovies before, not sure why as I love all seafood (except tuna), so I was intrigued with this. It was served like the rest of the dishes in a rustic way but with a newspaper looking sheet underneath, which I liked. Anchovies are naturally salty, so expect that if you haven't tried them. I have to say my first foray into anchovies went well and now I feel I need more. 

I remember the first time I tried caramari, I was in Florida, I was 16 and I fell in love and thus, the love affair began. This version was nice, not rubbery but I found the batter slightly drying and would've loved a spicy tomato sauce to dip them into.

Last, but no means least, is the Paella Verduras (vegetable paella), and this was the star dish of the meal.
This is what I would go back for. Full of flavour, none of that stickiness that you may get with other paellas and just so vibrant in colour that no filter is needed. It was served in a hot paella pan on a stand, is the ideal portion for two and you can tell all the produce is fresh and organic.

And to drink I had the Passionfruit Sangria. It had chunky bits of apple within it, as well as orange and lime. It was tangy, tasty and a good portion.

I feel like this menu is full of great ideas, is the beginning of making La Tasca a go-to place for the young and old and will allow them to make a lengthy distance from their frozen processed food past. With a little more emphasis on the execution, I think they could do just that and think they are on their way to greatness.

Food - 3/5

Dairy-free options? - 3/5
Dairy free menu is in production and the staff are knowledgable on what is and isn't dairy-free. The main menu is already labelled with gluten-free options.

Service - 5/5
Friendly and faultless.

Cleanliness - 5/5

Location - 4/5
Awkward for a car user but a good place to have a bite when passing by on a walk.

Value for Money - 4/5
Just under 40 pounds for 6 tapas dishes.

Worth trying? Yes

Instagram worthy? Yes

Overall - 3/5

Have you tried La Tasca recently? What is your opinion on the new look and food?

*I was invited to try out La Tasca and the meal was complimentary. However, the views are my own as I cannot hide my opinions well*

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