Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- La Tasca Tapas Bar, Edinburgh (and Glasgow)

La Tasca is at 9 South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh (telephone 0131 220 0011). The La Tasca in Edinburgh makes it the chain's 21st Spanish tapas bar in the UK, with other branches in Glasgow (39 Renfield Street), Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and London. Even as the paint is drying at this newest restaurant in Edinburgh's west end, there are plans for a second branch in the capital.

The Restaurant
On a Friday night around 8pm, the restaurant is full and as is the nature of the tapas menu, people are coming in for a quick meal, sampling a few classic Spanish dishes and then moving on, their table quickly taken by others queuing at the door. The concept is undoubtedly a brilliant idea and follows in the line of other restaurant chains such as Browns, Est Est, Est, Wok Wok and Pizza Express serving the same or similar quality menu in cities UK wide. Like high street shops, the brand name becomes well known and therefore popular, for visitors and residents alike. Following the success across the rest of the country, La Tasca has quickly become a popular place to eat.

The design and atmosphere is truly Spanish, with bright and colourful mosaics, fabrics, pictures, prints and artefacts covering every wall and shelf. The dark wood tables and furnishings are of good quality, with a spacious layout of tables over two floors. Around the walls is comfy and relaxing banquette seating with piles of yellow and red cushions. There is a party atmosphere all around as everyone nibbles away at their plates of tapas.

The Food
We were advised to take three or four tapas each - and then see if we wanted more. We selected Queso Mangeto, a Spanish cheese with fresh tomato and olive oil, Tortilla Espanola, the classic omelette, Gambas Garbardina (King prawns), Patatas Bravas (deep fried potatoes in a spicy sauce), Paella de verduras, and a basket of olive and sun dried tomato bread.

The Spanish feast arrived, one by one, until everything was piled around the table, and we began to sample the diverse range of savoury tastes and textures. A real picnic and such a fun, informal and truly romantic way to enjoy a meal. Eating with fingers makes food taste so much better! We washed the whole meal down with a bottle of Casa de la Vina, Valdepenas tinto. To finish there is a selection of Postres, which all sound superb - Trufa de Chocolate, Tarta de Albaricoque and Copa de Halado con fresas.

At the next table was a couple sharing with great delight a Paella de Marisco, a huge platter with prawns, squid, mussels, tuna and swordfish. They scraped the wok-like dish absolutely clean. The various paella dishes are all for a minimum of two people and as with the tapas, everything is freshly prepared for you.

The Bill
See for current menu and prices.

Vivien Devlin

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