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Thursday, 10 December 2009

La Tasca, Canary Wharf, London

‘You can’t take pictures here’, says the security man all wrapped up in his security visor jacket. ‘Especially not of that’, he says pointing to the bridge. I look to the bridge, in all its misty, dimly lit glory (it was a cold, misty night).

‘Why not?’ I ask. ‘I’m just taking photos of the lights and how nice it looks.’

‘Your hotel should have told you about not taking pictures here’, he says, shrugging without giving me any real reason at all why I have crossed the line by taking pictures at Canary Wharf (I’ve done so a few times before without anyone telling me I couldn’t do it).

Last time I checked, we could take pictures of places, as long as they are not private establishment type places. I guess Canary Wharf counts as one huge privately owned place? Try telling that to the tourists who’ve undoubtedly taken pictures of the place, a thousand times or more.

Update: Just had a quick check and it seems it is one giant private establishment, which allows photography but where security might question why you're doing it.

Anyway, I showed him the pictures and won him over. Quite an achievement considering how rubbish the pictures were. Look, here’s one.

Canary Wharf bridge
Rubbish picture of bridge

It was dark, and it was cold, and my hands were wobbling. I tried steadying myself on the bannister to take the picture, but that was when security man came over, so the bridge picture was unsuccessful.

Here are some of the more successful pictures, taken when we were on the other side of the bridge.

Canary Wharf 1

Canary Wharf 2

Anyway, feeling rebellious (and slightly confused), we went on towards La Tasca, 50% off vouchers in hand. These vouchers surprisingly allowed us to dine in on Fridays, so we took that opportunity to try it out one more time. I’d previously tried it twice, and was not that impressed but we figured, since everyone seems so won over by this place, maybe the ones we tried weren’t good examples of what La Tasca had to offer.

La Tasca, Canary Wharf 5

La Tasca, Canary Wharf 3

The outside of the place looks good, and the inside looks warm and very welcoming, especially since it was really cold and windy when we were there. As we’d made the booking for 8pm, this meant that we could skip the 10-people deep queue that was already there, going with our over-worked waitress to the table.

La Tasca, Canary Wharf 4

This might be a good time to say that it was unbelievably dark in there, so I had to use the flash for the photos. Tapas = many dishes = many flashes = many people looking at us.

La Tasca - Pan de Barra £2.25 (Fresh bread served with an extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip)

Pan de Barra £2.25 (Fresh bread served with an extra-virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar dip)

We were expecting the usual balsamic vinegar with olive oil dip, but what came was this red and green dip – the red tasted like garlic and tomato, the green tasted like garlic and olive oil. Interesting. But not nice.

La Tasca - Pollo Marbella £4.75 (Chicken, cooked with paprika, chorizo, sweet peppers, onion and a white wine & cream sauce)

Pollo Marbella £4.75 (Chicken, cooked with paprika, chorizo, sweet peppers, onion and a white wine & cream sauce)

This was OK, as in it would have been OK if we hadn’t ordered this. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m complaining about each dish, but that’s not necessarily without reason. The food tasted like it was ladled out of ready-prepared vats, and perhaps reheated prior to being served. We’re not expecting Michelin-starred quality, but hey, we’re paying restaurant prices (albeit only half) but it would be nice if it tasted like it was cooked fresh to order instead of being reheated fresh to order.

La Tasca - Calamares Andaluza £4.25 (Deep-fried squid rings, served with roasted garlic mayonnaise and fresh lemon)

Calamares Andaluza £4.25 (Deep-fried squid rings, served with roasted garlic mayonnaise and fresh lemon)

Perhaps the favourite of the meal, because it wasn’t soggy, and the squid was tender.

La Tasca - Alitas de Pollo £4.25 (Marinated chicken wings)

Alitas de Pollo £4.25/£5.95 (Marinated chicken wings)

Of all the items which were ordered, this was the only one which tasted like it was cooked to order. How could I tell? The skin of the chicken wings were crispy to the bite, and each bite had a little bit of moisture with it, showing that it was cooked only just before being served. Because of that, it was very tasty, very tender, very nice.

La Tasca - Paella de Carne £4.25 (A meat paella, with chicken and chorizo)

Paella de Carne £4.25 (A meat paella, with chicken and chorizo)

If the chicken wings tasted the freshest, this probably wins the award for the least fresh tasting item in the meal. The texture of the rice was similar to that of microwaved frozen paella. I’m not saying that’s what it was, but it sure tasted like it. It was also very salty, but that wasn’t a problem as we only had a bite of this anyway.

La Tasca - Costillas de Cerdo £4.65 (Succulent pork ribs, served in a tangy sauce)

Costillas de Cerdo £4.65/£6.75 (Succulent pork ribs, served in a tangy sauce)

The ribs were generous in size, and surprisingly juicy. Would have been very nice if not for the slightly too tangy sauce.

La Tasca - Albóndigas a la Jardinera £4.65 (Spanish-style beef meatballs)

Albóndigas a la Jardinera £4.65/£6.75 (Spanish-style beef meatballs, served in a tomato sauce)

Meaty tasting meatballs (I know), in a sauce which was tomatoey. As far as descriptions go, this did what it said on the menu. Nothing more, nothing less.

La Tasca - Buey al Jerez £5.95 (Rump steak and mushrooms, sautéed and served with fried potato and a rich sherry sauce)

Buey al Jerez £5.95 (Rump steak and mushrooms, sautéed and served with fried potato and a rich sherry sauce)

*Taps fingers in an attempt to come up with more inventive descriptions. Remind me not to have tapas again, this is quite tiring*

OK, it looked promising, what with the many pieces of meat and brown-looking potatoes. It tasted like leather.

La Tasca - Patatas Bravas £3.35 (Fried potato, with a spicy tomato sauce)

Patatas Bravas £3.35/£4.35 (Fried potato, with a spicy tomato sauce)

Liked this very much, because it was potatoes and because it was fried. You can’t really go wrong with fried potatoes, as shown here, so we like this, it was nice, should have ordered more.

La Tasca - Tortilla Española £3.60 (Spanish-style omelette, with potato and onion)

Tortilla Española £3.60 (Spanish-style omelette, with potato and onion)

Finally, the omelette. Not had this before, ordered this to try as I was curious what it would taste like (seen it being cooked many times on TV and in cookbooks, but not tried it myself). Maybe this is not the best example of a tortilla, but it sure tasted like a cake-pie.

Excuse me while I have another meal to make up for this one. Would I recommend this? Probably not. Even with the 50% discount, I still didn’t feel like it was good value for money, and neither was it filling enough to be counted as a satisfactory meal.

Google Maps to here!


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4 comments:

tamarindandthyme said...

:( I had a terrible meal at La Tasca too...not here in London but up in Leicester. I wonder how they manage to pull the customers in...

How was the service?

monchichi said...

Hi there tamarindandthyme,
It seems they're consistent at least! (consistently bad, that is)The service was OK, in that, there were a few waiting staff, looking rushed, and having lots of plates on large trays. They served all the food at once, no mean feat considering how much we ordered, but the taste left much to be desired. With quite alot of diners that day, and only a few waiting staff, I must say they did their best to be polite and there for the customers. How was the service when you were there?

AWESOME said...

Wow great pictures, no wonder he was also puzzled why cannot take the pictures at Canary Wharf ha. If they start to be strict now, your pictures can sell for loads ha

Gonzalo de la Peña said...

As a Spaniard and as a cook, I'm ashamed of what La Tasca is doing with these amazing traditional dishes. Believe me, when they are properly cooked, they are truly amazing, but...

It's a pity the bad publicity this chain is giving to the Spanish culture of food.

I haven't found yet in UK an alternative up to my standards so I can recommend to go there and try proper Spanish meals (and I've tried a few). But please don't be mislead, Spanish cuisine is among the best in the world on every proper ranking. Some reason has to be for it.

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