A few weeks ago I went to La Tasca in Leeds for meal with some friends. It was a Monday evening, so not the busiest evening to go out. The place was reasonably empty, so expectations were high that things would be good and that we would get some good service….
Though our waiter was quite enthusiastic about taking our orders for drinks and food, the service we had afterwards left a lot to be desired.
Our initial order of tapas dishes, seemed to take a long time to arrive and when they did, they were warm, as though they had been left somewhere for a while before they arrived at our table. Now I know that authentic tapas are just warm, so it could be argued that they were suppose to be like that… We had ordered two selections of tapas from the menu, and two additional dishes. The second selection arrived just as we were finishing the first. These were hot and straight from the kitchen.
As for the other two dishes, well we had to ask for them, and it would appear that they had gone to a different table! So our final two dishes arrived somewhat later.
So what of the tapas themselves. Well the calamari was nice, fresh with a crunchy batter, but slightly let down by an excessive sprinkling of sea salt. If you brushed that off, then it was quite nice. There was a nice creamy chicken dish that I liked, but no idea what it was or the name. I did like the deep fried anchovies, think of whitebait but with a stronger flavour. Alas this was one of our missing dishes and arrived last and I was quite full at this point. To be honest I enjoyed most of the dishes and they had flavour and texture. Some things were very good, some were good and some I know could be a lot better. For example the “sample” paella dishes are not paella as I know it should be, but then maybe one day, I should just order paella at La Tasca to see what they do with their standard paella. The fritata was okay, but not sure if that was just me, or it’s suppose to be like that! At the end of the day I have had much better tapas dishes from La Tasca and as a result I was slightly disappointed.
However as with any “dining experience” it’s not just about the food (though the food is important) it is also the atmosphere, the ambience and the service.
Well the people I was with were excellent company and I really enjoyed the evening, so from that perspective it was great.
The service on the other hand was, well variable, sometimes good, sometimes downright awful. An example, very few deserts were available as they had run out of vanilla ice cream… Now this was in the centre of Leeds, a Tesco Express was just around the corner, was it really too much effort for someone to get a tub? Well knowing how these chains work I suspect that if they did, there would be hell to pay from senior management over staff using non-standard ingredients. I also guess that they wouldn’t be able to re-claim the cost of the ingredients. Yes processes and guidelines are in place there to make sure the business runs smoothly, but when those processes fail, as in this case the supply of vanilla ice cream, there must be contingency plans in place to give staff the “freedom” to improvise to ensure that the customer can get what they would like. As in our case, so that the customer can get the desert they want without finding out that none are available because the supple chain failed, and procedures stop improvisation (by getting in some ice cream) to fulfill that need.
So I did indeed have a good evening out, the company was excellent, the food was good and yes I would go again to La Tasca, well maybe not in Leeds.