Nate and I are huge fans of the whole “sharing is caring” rule (especially when it comes to food sharing — arguably the best kind of sharing), so the concept of tapas is perfect for us. We recently decided to go to Tasca in Brighton, where we experienced Spanish cuisine at its finest.
We decided to get three items off the extensive menu (seriously extensive – there’s 35 varieties of tapas and ten full-sized dinner entrees), but everything looked so good that the decision was hard to come by. We toyed with the idea of getting the Brie a la Plancha (#29 on the menu), which comes with grilled brie and a tangy-sweet raisin chutney and a grilled garlicky baguette. We were also intrigued by the Confit de Pato (#19) — succulent roast duck leg served over braised red cabbage and apples — and the Costillas de ternera (#31) — braised short rib ragout with root vegetables and creamy horseradish on top. Tasca is the sort of place you have to keep visiting again and again so you can try everything that looks good (aka the whole menu).
Ultimately, this time around we went with the Solomillo (#20; a petit filet mignon served in a red wine sauce with mushrooms and a stack of potatoes au gratin); Salmon ahumado (#34; smoked salmon with red onion, capers, and dill crème fraîche with a side of crispy potato cake); and Fideos con mariscos (#32; Catalan-style roasted angel hair pasta with shrimp, calamari, mussels and littleneck clams baked in a garlic lobster broth).
The filet was perfectly cooked to order, tender and juicy and just the right amount for two people. The cheesy potatoes soaked up the au jus of the steak and were rich and creamy.
The salmon ahumado was basically the Spanish answer to the traditional bagel and lox — the salmon was just the right amount of smoky, the potato cake was basically a huge hash brown (#heaven), and the creamy, smooth, slightly tangy dill crème fraîche tied all the flavors together in a perfect combination of savory, creamy, fishy goodness.
The highlight of the meal for me, however, was the Fideos con Mariscos. The portion was extremely generous for tapas, and the dish was chock-full of enough shrimp, calamari, mussels, and clams that Nate and I didn’t even have to fight over who got the bigger portion (although in all fairness I think I might have taken more than he did…sorry, Nate!). The garlic lobster broth was creamy and flavorful and had undertones of an Alfredo sauce. The sauce was neutral enough to bring out the flavor of the seafood but simultaneously flavorful enough to stand on its own — even bites with just the lobster-broth coated angel hair pasta were delicious.
Pro tip: when the bill comes and your server asks you to fill out a comment card, make sure you not only give comments, but provide your email address as well. I know, I know…spam emails are annoying. But ever since giving my email address to Tasca way back when I first tried it a few years ago, I have never eaten a meal there without some sort of coupon giving me a percentage off my meal. In fact, with the $10 coupon Nate and I used when we went this time around, we basically got two of the tapas we ordered on the house.
The restaurant is also very into promotional events. There are weekly sangria tastings, special holiday menus, and even live music flamenco dancing. Tapas range in price from $5 to $9 and the portions are larger than those found in most tapas restaurants in the city, so it’s definitely a good value. Plus, with exposed brick walls, candle-lit dining, and ample seating, Tasca is a great place for a date night or just a slightly fancy yet also totally affordable meal with friends. A trip to Tasca is basically the next best thing to a trip to Spain. Without having to bring your passport or getting searched by the TSA.
TL;DR: Tasca serves up authentic and delicious Spanish tapas at a reasonable price — with its romantic ambiance and easy accessibility via public transportation, it’s a great spot for dinner dates and more than worth the trip to Brighton!