Walking through the doors of La Tasca is like walking into a rustic, Spanish cellar. Textured, burnt orange walls are adorned with brass candelabras, iron sconces and brightly colored tiles. The Latin crooners softly playing, sets the mood for an intimate and calming dining experience. A window seat at the expansive bar provides a perfect platform for observing the busy streets of Clarendon Blvd and the festive Christmas tree next to the base of the spiraling staircase. With its sparkling lights and red bows, it seems to demand it be the center of attention. You may find yourself conjuring up the last remnants of vocabulary from your Intro to Spanish class and rediscover your long lost accent as you think “Feliz Navidad!”
If you are unfamiliar with the tapas style of dining, there is an explanatory blurb on the cover of the menu which clarifies its Spanish origins and meaning. If that is not enough, the friendly waiters are more than helpful. If starting your meal with an accompanying cocktail, the Cadillac White Sangria is an excellent choice. Chosen as a favorite by one of the staff, its mellow, vanilla flavor is a perfect compliment to the fresh peach slices mingling amongst the ice in your glass.
When ordering appetizers, you may find that you are emphatically rolling your R’s and puckering your lips as you pronounce Pan de Ajo con Queso and Croqueta de Pollo. The Pan de Ajo con Queso, cheesy garlic bread, has a pleasant flavor but can be dry on the ends and chewy towards the center. The Croqueta de Pollo can only be described as hush puppies containing a creamy surprise inside. The pulled chicken béchamel has a smooth, thick texture and the accompanying sauce made of mayo, garlic and parsley flawlessly accentuates the deep fried rounds.
Amongst, the many divine selections served at La Tasca, the Salmon a la Pancha is definitely a dish to be tried. The freshness of the fish is evident as you bite into the lightly seared top layer of the salmon, which provides a surprising crunch. But the stars on this plate are the fried mussels. For those trying mussels for the first time, this is the best entrée to wet your feet. The fried treats are quite different from the slimy, unappealing image that some might have envisioned. Exquisitely seasoned and wonderfully textured, the mussels steal the salmon’s spotlight.
Please be sure to save room for dessert as La Tasca does not disappoint in that arena either. Try the thrice milk soaked pound cake known as Tres Leche. Served with fresh strawberries and drizzled with strawberry puree, you may find yourself dancing from side to side in palatable bliss. The classic chocolate cake is also a great choice. A bite size warm, chocolate bundt is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream which perfectly offsets the rich flavor of the cake’s molten center.
La Tasca is an all around appealing place to dine. You may say adios for now but you most certainly will return later.