Where: 338 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden. Ph 6306345.
Our meal: $112 for three tapas, two mains and a side, three glasses of wine and two beers.
Our wine: By the glass $7-$12, by the bottle $32-$56. Watch for the sherries, cassis and sangria.
Verdict: A welcome addition to The Strip, well priced and welcoming. Long may it remain.
Out of 10
There are many eating places in Dominion Rd. As a statement of the bleedin' obvious, that's got to be right up there.
As is the statement some of them are good, some bad, and some downright horrible.
Happily, Tasca tapas bar and restaurant does not belong in that last category.
Or the second to last.
Now, an admission. I have never been to Spain. I am therefore relying on an internet definition that describes a tasca as an unpretentious Spanish backstreet bar and/or eatery that offers tapas as an accompaniment to drinking and gambling that may continue into the wee small hours. There's a challenge if ever I heard one, although gambling is a vice that has not yet had a grip on me.
Tasca in Dominion Rd is the third in the chain, the first is in Upper Vulcan Lane and the second in Nuffield St in Newmarket.
The Dominion Rd site has been variously occupied by eating establishments that have not lasted the distance, so it was interesting to see the Tasca shingle go up in early October. And it's definitely worth a visit before the location curse kicks in.
We wandered in early on a Saturday evening, hoping for a table and were in luck. The space is narrow but the tables are well spaced, the walls faux tongue-in-groove, and the original floor looks made for flamenco dancing.
Past the kitchen and out the back is an Alice in Wonderland moment - a large garden with tables, heaters, trees, shrubs - which is unexpected and lovely.
We started with tapas, of course.
A bowl of mixed olives ($5.50), slow-cooked green beans with olive oil, onion and tomato and accompanied by hot crusty bread ($10.50), and albondigas (Spanish meatballs with peas in tomato gravy $12.50). All excellent fare, the meatballs tasty and the beans soft and luscious with sauce. I'm a sucker for green beans.
The wine list is brief - local whites, and local, Spanish and Italian reds. I hadn't tried Daisy Rock sauvignon blanc before, but it's a Marlborough wine and recommended by Clare, one of Tasca's owners, which was good enough for me.
Bill's beer options were limited, but he managed to down a couple of Speights distinction ales before his glass of Rabbit Ranch pinot noir.
More food required, so Bill went for a margherita pizza ($18.50), and I had Barcelona salad, a miscellany of new potatoes, chorizo, artichokes, gherkins, soft boiled egg and salad greens, with aioli ($19.50), and a side of pide bread. The salad sounded as though it might have one or two too many ingredients, but the whole thing worked together in the spirit of teamwork. The pizza, however, was overloaded with topping, which made the base sag.
Inquiries following the observation of a bunch being fed from large platters and bowls elicited the information that a village feast is available to any group.
Just give the kitchen a day's notice, they'll organise it and tell you what you'll be eating. Vegetarians and other strange creatures are happily catered for.
And all this information was provided by a staff that are happy in their work, helpful and prompt.