La Tasca

Written by on May 15, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Rockville, Maryland

How I heard of this place: When I first arrived in Arlington, Virginia, Chris picked me up from the airport and, on our way home, he told me about a Spanish Tapas place in Clarendon that we had to try! It has been at the top of our list for the past few weeks, but somehow, we never quite made it there, until today. While visiting friends in Germantown, Maryland for the day, we were given a number of dining options. But when we heard La Tasca, we immediately knew where we were headed!

Type of cuisine: La Tasca is a careful blend of everything about Spain—warm décor, authentic cuisine and friendly hospitality. With a combination of many tapas dishes, paellas, sangria blends and Spanish wines and beers, La Tasca has something for everyone.” Small dishes presented to the table to share and enjoy, tapas do not get better than this when you want variety, flavor and generous helpings. “Tapa means “lid” or “cover” in Spanish.  The origins of modern day tapas are not truly known, but it is widely believed that  centuries ago at the end of long workdays, farmers and laborers would visit local “tascas” for a well-earned drink, on top of which they would place a slice of bread to protect it from pesky flies. Over time, the innkeepers gradually began placing snacks, such as cured meats and sausages, on top of the bread slices.  The “edible lids” eventually evolved into the beginning of the exciting tapas experience we are familiar with today. At La Tasca, our tapas dishes are designed to provide guests with an assortment of both traditional and more contemporary dishes, showcasing the best of this unique and exciting style of eating.  Whenever possible, we have imported ingredients directly from Spain to ensure an authentic dining experience.” Breads and starters, everything from gazpacho to Dátiles con Tocino (bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese) to olive plates and croquetas, Queso Manchego and a varity of paellas, cold and hot tapas, to salad, seafood, vegetable and meat & poultry tapas, everyone can find something to celebrate at La Tasca. 

Ambiance: Our party, so happy with the gorgeous weather, blue skies and temperatures in the low 70s, we opted to sit outside, in the wicker chairs adjacent to small metal tables covered by less-than-oversized rust-colored umbrellas. The table we chose, closest to the square also hosted a small fountain and pond, where the trickling sounds of water could be heard as we enjoyed our meal in the spring east coast breeze. “La Tasca Inc. operates La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bars and Restaurants in the United States in a joint venture partnership with La Tasca Restaurants, LTD headquartered in Bolton, England. La Tasca was conceived in Spain and exported to the United Kingdom in 1993, where the Company now owns and operates Spanish Tapas Bars and Restaurants. At La Tasca, our values are focused on a passion to be Spanish; to be local to the community while bringing to it a taste of Spain. Our guests can enjoy the unique atmosphere while choosing from over 35 authentic Tapas dishes and classic Paellas as well as a wide selection of Spanish wines and beers. La Tasca even features a Sangria Menu of nine unique and delicious Sangria blends. Each La Tasca restaurant is designed to give our guests a careful blend of everything that is good about Spanish style, food and hospitality. From the classic wrought iron railings and artwork to the hand-painted tiles to the fresh flowers arranged daily, it is the attention to authenticity that makes La Tasca special. A great many elements are combined to create a unique and relaxed atmosphere, where the guest can choose to eat, drink or talk as the mood takes them. The Tapas format allows guests to sample and enjoy a wide variety of different flavors and menu items while encouraging sharing. La Tasca’s traditional Spanish recipes feature a wide variety of Spanish seafood, chicken, beef and pork dishes and, whenever possible, La Tasca has imported ingredients from Spain.”

What I ordered: The five of us, well, four adults and a 19-month old, decided to partake of the limited-time Unlimited Tapas for $20 per person! (Dinner deal is $30 per person.) The La Tasca Rockville Unlimited Tapas Menu gave us access to 25 of La Tasca’s popular and signature dishes, including a great variety of vegetarian, meat, and seafood tapas! The price per person includes all-you-can-eat from this artfully decorated mini menu. We selected, some at the recommendation of our server, the Gambas Gabardina, battered and deep fried shrimp skewers (3 to a serving) served with garlic aoili; Ensalada de Tomates, a generous helping of green, yellow, orange and red colored tomato medley with a honey herb vinaigrette, spring onions and soft goat cheese crubmles; Pan a la Catalana (1 slice per order), grilled garlic bread with La Tasca’s classic tomato spread and fresh garlic; Pan de Ajo con Queso (1 slice per order), freshly grilled slices of rustic garlic bread topped with mozzarella cheese and grilled to fried, gooey perfection; Berenjenas Fritas, a large, rectangular plate with an ample supply of lightly floured fried eggplant half-moon slices served with a warm Cabrales cheese dip; Calamares a la Andaluza, a generous helping of quick-fried, battered calamari rings served with a spicy garlic aoili; Mejillones, a large moutain of mussels sauteed in a garlic white wine sauce served in a cast-iron skillet; Patatas Bravas, a deep bowl of diced, fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with a dollop of herb aioli; Paella Valenciana, a bowl (about two cups) of this mini paella with chicken, calamari and shrimp, garnished with a mussel; Paella verduras, a miniature paella made with assorted seasonal vegetables, topped with a freshly roasted red bell pepper half; Chorizo a la Parilla, three links of grilled Spanish chorizo sausage served over a bed of grated cabbage; Datiles, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese; Esparragos Verdes, a healthy plate of crispy grilled asparagus with olive oil and sea salt, accompanied by half a lemon, grilled; and Salmon a la Plancha, grilled salmon topped with sauteed spinach, served over a spinach puree and decorated with fried mussels. To drink, my three dining companions each ordered Diet Coke, the youngest in our group, Apple Juice, and I, craving a delicious cup of coffee, selected the Café Cortado ($4), one shot of espresso topped with steamed milk.

What I loved: Of all of the dishes we sampled, my favorite was the tender, juicy and lightly flavored salmon, followed by the grilled asparagus and the Patatas Bravas. My three dining companions most thoroughly enjoyed the Datiles. I decided that the perfect meal, if one must limit themselves with La Tasca tapas is: the Salmon a la Plancha, Patatas Bravas and Esparragos verdes. A delicous complement of fat, greens and hearty, spicy, soft potatoes! The tomato salad got rave reviews as did the eggplant – namely for the warm, melted Cabrales cheese dip. The mussels, I was told (since I am not the connasieur), were delicious. I must admit that the two I sampled and the one that was deep-fried, were tasty. But not something with which I wished to have filled myself.

Why I loved it: Who can refuse all-you-can-eat tapas, delicious, well-prepared and diverse? Really, what was there not to love? We had outdoor seating in the most gorgeous spring weather one can imagine, great company, a friendly server and an unending supply ofvery good food.

Cost: Average (tapas range from $5 to $12 per plate/bowl, and a $20 all-you-can-eat lunch menu!)

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