Howard the Celeriac visits La Tasca in Victoria

The first impressions were good – the restaurant has been relatively recently refurbished to modernise and add a balcony. Every table on the ground floor seemed to be full – it was a Wednesday night in Victoria and although we aren’t experts on the location this was surprising to us. We were met promptly and the staff turned out to be courteous and knowledgeable. Throughout the meal everything arrived after a short wait and was delivered with a smile.

We opted for a selection of classic and more adventurous tapas to get a good overview of the food. We selected Serrano ham, tortilla, stuffed aubergines, pork belly, king prawns, chorizo, fillet steak and paella.

I find it very difficult to choose a favourite between the wonderfully tender and pink (if very thin) fillet steak with a rich and undeniably pleasant creamy and tangy sherry sauce, and the pork belly – salty and springy and served with rosemary scented white beans which went really rather well with it.

I think a tortilla is easy to overlook but they did a good job – melt-in-your-mouth and moist and served with a jolly pleasant, flavourful red pepper sauce and a garlic mayonnaise of course.

Also I need to mention the stuffed aubergine rolls – the aubergines were grilled perfectly with a satisfying bite to them, and they chose a decent goat’s cheese for the stuffing. These factors combined with a fantastic tomato and pepper sauce made this, well, what would have been my favourite dish if it had had any meat in it, but I’m not a vegetarian so I won’t be silly.

My other half, a Gluter (gluten eater), chose the octopus as well. This was sadly disappointing – they put fried potatoes or something similar (which weren’t gluten free) – I found this confusing. I don’t think octopus needs anything more than olive oil and lemon, maybe some parsley and paprika and I didn’t understand the mix. I can’t comment on the taste but my partner wasn’t impressed.

The dessert menu’s gluten free options weren’t massively inspiring, and the only option that wasn’t ice cream or sorbet had run out (by 8pm). I chose the “Malaga gelato”, which came with a shot of sherry. Although I have never chosen an ice cream unless forced I might think again in future as it was impressive. The silky smooth ice cream dotted with soft raisins went brilliantly with the liqueur – I don’t get excited about ice cream but it is certainly worth a try.

Throughout the meal I was drinking their new gluten free beer, which was one of the best I have tasted – nicely crisp and bitter without the artificial tang that you get with most.

I would also like to thank Miguel, our waiter, for looking after us – he seemed genuinely nice, very punctual and knowledgeable of the menu.

To summarise, from a gluten free point of view, I was largely impressed with the choice (there were many more options than I’ve ever seen on a tapas menu) and the execution. I would have been converted and ready to name it my new canteen if they had gone just a little bit further and offered options that we can’t usually eat, especially in the dessert area, and made some treats with gluten free flour. If they had offered gluten free churros for example I would have been theirs for life.

All in all it was a fine incarnation of La Tasca and it could quite easily become one of my favourite chains.

Visit La Tasca Website

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