8108 W Third St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 951-9890
We arrived at Tasca for our 6:30 reservation, and naturally the small restaurant was almost empty. We were offered either a table inside their small, intimate tented patio or inside, and we chose to sit at the gorgeous bar. The three of took the corner three seats so we could converse and nosh comfortably.
The outside patio, inviting but not inviting enough to pull us away from the bar.
Weeknights they offer a nice little Tapas Happy Hour. I wish I had a copy of the Happy Hour menu. All kinds of Spanish tapas, Spanish style in the sense that each one is just a couple of bites rather than the standard California practice of small plates.
Their special menu on the wall board lists soup du jour, shrimp pintxos, escargot, and duck 3 ways as a large plate. I find the prices to be very reasonable. The three of us escaped with a $158 bill, and we ordered a $65 bottle of wine.
For my Happy Hour tapa, I ordered the chicken liver mousse. With chives and a trace of truffle flavoring, this was delicious. It was about 4 bites for me, for the normal human most likely only two.
C ordered the manchego cheese with a schmear of something jammy. She told me what it is called in Spanish, and I cannot remember. But D said it tasted like cranberry sauce, sweet yet tart and fruity. She loves, adores, worships manchego and said this was far better quality than what she gets at Trader Joe's.
D ordered the bacalao, something I love. It was a very nice rendition, atop some tomato & olive oil sauce. Both D & C commented on its saltiness, primarily I think because neither one of them understood the historical context of bacalao. They got a mini-lesson with their tapas, what I know anyway from watching Anthony Bourdain and reading A Cook's Tour. Please see wikipedia for your own mini-lesson. I rarely pass on an opportunity to eat bacalao, and only did so last night because I even more rarely pass on an opportunity to eat chicken liver pate.
I love wine bars. There is a bar. And they serve wine to drink. What could be more perfect? I also love Tasca, both for the great food and drink we had, but also because Karrie works there. She also works at Rosenthal Tasting Room, where we met her last Sunday on the outing with the hounds. She is beautiful. She is friendly. She likes to talk about dogs. She pours wine for me to drink. She also works at a restaurant where they like to make your wine drinking experience special. They beautifully decanted our $65 bottle of whatever the heck it was we were drinking. Frankly, it needed decanting. It's not a wine I would have chosen myself, but it opened up nicely and I enjoyed drinking its ass off.
To start, C ordered the soup of the day, which was a roasted red bell pepper and eggplant soup. I think serving bad soup in a restaurant is a crime, as soup is so easy and lends itself to flavor saturation. This soup did its job nicely. It tasted wonderful. Although I have to say that I didn't taste much eggplantiness. I don't think the subtle flavor of an eggplant stands a chance against the domineering red bell pepper. It did taste lovely, nevertheless.
To start, I ate the baby artichoke salad with heirloom tomatoes, arugula and a lemon vinaigrette. Truly delicious. My favorite part of the meal, or maybe a tie with the chicken live mousse. This was very lightly dressed, the artichoke was julienned for easy eating, and the arugula was plentiful. Also, the tomatoes were perfectly ripe, not too soft and not too hard.
For a main dish, C ordered the wild mushroom risotto balls. The size was nice, big enough to for a light meal but not obscenely large. They were lightly fried and sitting in a small puddle of a sour creamy sauce with chives.
She said they didn't have enough zing. But I find that to be the case with risotto balls in general. They are meant to be comfort food, and not an in-your-face spicy, balls in your mouth sensation.
Balls. Say it.
For a main (or third starter, if you will) I ate the tuna tarare. This was dressed again, lightly in truffle oil. Surprisingly, the flavor of the fish and surrounding ingredients were not overwhelmed by the truffle flavor. It was very nice. It also came with a large water glass full of taro chips, but by the time I got to the tartare I was starting to feel full.
D nommed on the steak frites. Whoever was in the kitchen cooked this far more well done than any steak house worth its own salt would do, so eater be warned. Order on the rare side. He ordered this medium. But he loves it cooked this way, so he was super pleased. And the frites. This is how an American frite should be. Larger than a true pomme frite French style. And the texture in the middle was like cake. Potato fried cake sticks. Just.wonderful.to.eat. I approve.