Not the La Tasca we knew and loved! We used to love this restaurant however unfortunately we had a rather disappointing experience this time round. The Groupon voucher itself was just fine - straightforward to use as 'money' towards the total bill. The menu, food and service on the other hand left quite a lot to be desired!
They have recently 'revamped' the menu, which seems to have involved taking the emphasis off the Tapas selection and introducing a regular mains section (which is contradictory to the whole La Tasca vibe IMO). As the Tapas menu is the key attraction for us this change was disappointing, and many of our favourite dishes have sadly been lost. They have also changed the drinks menu such that wine is no longer served by carafe - again this was once of the selling points for me, as the 2-glass portion did me perfectly alongside a meal. The drinks menu prices have also substantially increased.
We went for a duo of starters / nibbles from the 'while you choose' menu and then a 2-person house paella, all to share between the pair of us, plus a glass of white wine for me and beer for my partner. The next let-down came when my wine was served in a tumbler - the same as the water glasses on the table. This seems both inauthentic and illogical to me - why would you ever serve white wine in a stemless glass?! I would implore La Tasca to reconsider this bizarre change - I cannot see it being well-received by anyone in their right mind!
We then received our first course - the Pan Con Seleccion and the Tabla La Tasca. Generous selection of meats on the latter, plenty for two to share, and also generous portions of the various dips on the bread board. The bread portion however was rather stingy - just a few slices, nowhere near enough for the amount of dips provided. We asked whether it was possible to order another portion of bread to go with the remaining dips, but were advised that we would have to buy the whole dish again (with more dips?!) At £4+ we were not prepared to do this for a bit of bread. Again, it seems bizarre to me that a restaurant of this nature would not offer a portion of bread on its own!
When we ordered our food, we made very clear that we wanted the bread and platter as starters, and then the paella as a main (rather than have it all served together). We were quite enjoying taking our time over the first course, just nibbling and drinking and chatting. So it was much to my dismay when they brought out the paella halfway through the starters! I explained to the waiter that we were not ready for it yet and it would be quite some time (think 20-30 minutes) before we were finished with our first course. He looked at me blankly, and then said he would take it back to the kitchen and 'put it under the heater'. I then made it clear that I was not at all happy with my dinner (not least as it's a rice and seafood dish!) being put under the heat lamp for 30 minutes! Without a moment's hesitation, and without offering any apology or resolution himself, the waiter then asked would I like to speak to the Manager. Cue young Manageress coming over to the table and, after having listened to my complaint, proceeding to explain why it was perfectly okay for them to do that. Supposedly 'because of the way the dish is cooked' they can just 'add more sauce' and then reheat it! I honestly could not believe what I was hearing, she might as well have said 'we will just bung it in the microwave and then bring it back out when you are ready'. Appalling customer service - rather than offer resolution to an issue, she was trying to justify why my complaint was not really an issue at all and I shouldn't be bothered by having my main course reheated. It took me expressing my dissatisfaction a further time before she offered to get the kitchen to make me another one.
The paella was then returned to our table after we had finished our first course. The Manageress had advised that there may be a short delay as it takes quite a while to cook from scratch, which we were fine with - we were not in any hurry. However the 'new' paella came out surprisingly quickly once the first course was cleared and, though I will never know for sure, I would hasten to add my reasoning why... It was not a new one at all :| As far as we could tell, after saying that they would prepare a new one, they had just reheated the previous one and brought it back out. The prawns and squid were grey around the edges, the texture of the rice congealed and gross. I have eaten many a paella, both in Spain and the UK, and know what a good one should be like. While La Tasca was never going to be the finest, most authentic example, this was just a travesty. Plus if our suspicions were correct, they had lied to our faces when handling our complaint! My partner's stomach was turned and he hardly touched the dish; I ate it, as there is nothing I hate more than wasted food, but did not enjoy it at all.
The final bizarre nail in La Tasca's coffin came when we received the bill. They had taken off the price of one of the starters and one portion of the paella. While of course I cannot complain at my bill being reduced (!) it seems very odd that this 'goodwill gesture' was not made explicit when they were dealing with my complaint - they just stuck it unannounced on the bill at the end. It seems odder still considering they supposedly replaced the first paella, to then deduct the cost of one from the bill - and further adds to my suspicion that they had not replaced it at all. We settled and left, with a sour taste in our mouths and vowing never to return!