As soon as I heard about the brand new menu available at La Tasca, I had to go and try it out for myself. There are 18 choices of food that has the ‘GF’ symbol next to it to indicate that it is Gluten Free and to top it, there is even a gluten free beer for those of you who miss beer!
My experience of the La Tasca in Exeter is one that has firmly cemented the restaurant as a ‘go-to’ place for problem-free, gluten free eating and the evening as one of my favourite nights out! Not only was the setting and ambiance of the restaurant wonderful, the staff were fantastic and more than happy to help with any choices and were so attentive it felt as if we had the restaurant to ourselves – and I can assure you, we didn’t, the place was buzzing – a real Spanish experience!
Something I enjoyed about the restaurant, aside from the fabulous food and wonderfully created cocktails, was the menus and information about the food. This provides you with a really authentic feeling and allows you to feel a part of the La Tasca experience. As they say so themselves – ‘It’s a Spanish Revolution!
We arrived at the restaurant at 6.45, so were early for our meal, but rather than rushing straight in for the food (hard to do when you’re in a restaurant that smells of so many appetising foods!) we had some drinks. I had a mojito as with all this wonderful weather we’ve been blessed with, I was in a cocktail mood and the boyfriend went for a Spanish beer – Estrella Damm. I could quite happily go to La Tasca for drinks and olives I think as it was such a relaxed atmosphere and would make a lovely place to call into for a bit of afternoon or early evening relaxing! But on this visit, we were here for drinks, the food, the whole Spanish works!
After our drinks, we were shown to our table where we ordered olives and gluten free beer and chose our food. The boyfriend was particularly impressed with the Estrella Damm Daura Gluten Free Beer as, he is able to having the regular stuff, but chose to try the free from one and found it to be a really great taste! And the olives? Delicious, and… obviously we needed some sustenance to help us choose the rest of our meal…
For starters we chose a fantastic plate of Jamon Serrano – slices of 10 to 12-month-matured serrano ham from the ‘Breads, Nibbles and Kitchen Platters’ section, and were recommended to accompany this with the Manchego cheese and the boyfriend had a Spanish Rustic Bread Board to sample the cheese and ham with. I was happy without the bread and didn’t feel like I would have needed the bread at all!
The tastes were wonderful, and the beauty of La Tasca’s menu is that they put in brackets next to each item the location of the locality of the dishes you are eating. Also, with the Food, Facts and Philosophy information available, you really get a sense of the authenticity of all of the food you are eating and the care and attention that goes into not only the preparation of each dish but also the sourcing of the ingredients used.
Our main course was a real taste-sensation of spices, meats, pulses and cheeses, alongside a delicious jug of Sangria and with each dish that came out, the staff accompanied them with smiles, showing their obvious enthusiasm and pleasure at not only working in such a fantastically vibrant place, but also making us feel relaxed and happy with the food we were to eat. I find that if the people serving you look happy, it really put a positive spin on the meal you are about to enjoy. The dishes we had were chosen from the sections on the menu that describe where they are sourced from; Sea, Vegetable Garden, Field and Salad Garden, and each item is described with first it’s Spanish name and then an accompanying simple description that really get’s your tastebuds going. We had;
From The Sea
Gambas al Ajillo
From The Vegetable Garden
A Festival of Mushrooms
From The Field
Paella del Dia
‘Salsa’ Chicken Wings
From The Salad Garden
Goat’s Cheese & Tomato Salad
Everything was absolutely delicious with just the right amount of spice, seasoning and flavour in each dish. The only ones I couldn’t have were the Tortilla and the Paella because of the rice and potatoes and my intolerance to these, but the boyfriend assures me these were delicious and they are on the gluten free menu so you can have these if you are on a gluten free diet.
We were trying to choose favourites, but from each dish I have favourite tastes – the melt-in-your-mouth pork, the smokey paprika of the chicken wings, the contrast of goat’s cheese and tomato and the tapenade served with the skewers and tortilla were all amazing and only a hint at the flavours that created a wholly enjoyable evening of food that was above and beyond my own expectations.
When it comes to Tapas, I have had two experiences – one in Barcelona which was incredible as we were sat right by the sea, enjoying plates of food as a family when I was younger which is a lovely childhood memory I have. I don’t remember any being glutened as I wasn’t aware at this age that this was why my tummy used to hurt frequently after eating, but I think the one thing that is the real underlying reason for the lack of glutening was the fresh ingredients, the care and attention with each dish, and the lack of additives in each dish.
The other experience is not so lovely and came shortly before I found out that wheat and gluten were the main culprits in my poorly tummy and my feelings of exhaustion, bloating and having a low-immune system. The boyfriend and I went to a local Tapas restaurant in a seaside town and were having what we thought was a wonderful evening… only to find a few hours later we were both in a lot of pain when we returned home. What followed was a night of food poisoning and a next day feeling uneasy, restless and very queasy. Suffice to say we didn’t really fancy trying that restaurant again, and it definitely subdued my feelings of happy days eating Tapas. However, when I found out about the gluten free options available at La Tasca, I thought we should maybe give Tapas another chance, and I am so happy we did! My memories of that night back in Spain have been restored and we can strike that blip of a night off in the seaside town and now have so many new memories and tastes to recall that I couldn’t be happier!
So, with that, I am happy to say that my recent trip to La Tasca has provided me with a third and most definitely not final trip to a Tapas restaurant. My childhood memories of fresh food, delicious flavours and a feeling of satisfaction with the tastes was returned and I feel confident that I can return to the restaurant and be able to eat safely and not only that, but that I will be able to eat gluten free food without feeling like I am missing out anything from my diet. Not once did I have the ‘Oh I wish I could have that’ feeling, at no point was I left feeling short-changed with my menu and the best thing? The boyfriend and I were able to share food! We could happily swap dishes around, talk about the flavours and I didn’t have to think… ‘If only I could actually try the things you are talking about!’ La Tasca really created a wonderful dining experience for us both, which sometimes proves more than difficult and I am sure anyone with an allergy or intolerance can sympathise with me on this one – it just puts you off eating out sometimes! But now, I can add La Tasca to my slowly growing list of fabulous, gluten free friendly and delicious restaurants and can thoroughly recommend you find your nearest one and make a trip there soon.