Finally, a Los Angeles wine bar that has it right!
Jul 6, 2009
If you live in Los Angeles and enjoy food and wine, you will have noticed a recent upswing in wine bar openings. A lot of these places try to capture the trendy vibe that comes along with the LA scene but if you're like me and looking for more of an old-world escape akin to the the bars found in Paris, this is your kind of place. This place in particular although in decor and style seems almost Parisian, there is a distinct Spanish vibe here as evidenced by the restaurant name Tasca.
Here's my breakdown of this restaurant.
Decor: The place is charming, with a lot of dark woods with a European style that I think we don't really come by a lot here in Los Angeles. It's a really inviting and warm atmosphere making you feel like you've just escaped to a wine bar of the kind you find in the arrondissements on the outer edges of Paris. It's not a very big place, but surprisingly, we were able to secure a reservation pretty effortlessly. I think the size is perfect though, you're not gonna see the place get too loud and out of control, it's very laid back and perfect for a couple or group of 4. I wouldn't expect this place to accommodate to large groups too well. There is a nice full size bar making it easy for anyone to make a quick stop in for a bite to eat.
Service: Interestingly enough, most of the waiters are European here as well. Our waiter was French and he was great at recommending wine pairings and which small plates to go with. The bus boys were always on it taking plates away, bringing new ones, and wiping the table down which is something I always appreciate.
Food: The menu is a mix. Small plates, salads and soups on the front page, large plates, sides and desserts on the back. These days I'm really finding myself enjoying small plate menus. It may be that my cultural background lends itself to small plate dining but it just allows you to get to enjoy so many different flavors without the cost of over stuffing yourself. Here were my favorites: 1) Arincini which is a wild mushroom risotto fritter in a truffle sauce. 2) Cod Brandade which is salted cod and potato puree. You can't go to a Spanish style small plates joint without trying this common dish. 3) Tuna Tartare which name explains itself. Just think chunks of raw tuna on crustini or taro chips. This might be the best tuna tartare I've ever had. 4) Roasted Duck Confit - You've gotta like duck obviously but this was one of my favorites as well. So flavorful and cooked perfectly. Comes with fingerling potatoes, smoked bacon, and mushrooms. 5) Special - I don't recall the name of this special but it was basically homemade pasta where they folded sage in between the layers of pasta mixed with some kind of cheese. Not only did the pasta look amazing, it tasted great too.
Dessert: 1) Banana Puff Pastry with Dulce de leche 2) Chocolate Mouse
Both desserts were incredible as well, but the banana puff pastry took the edge on that race.
Wine: I had 3 wines this evening by the glass. 1) Carmenère, Montes, “Purple Angel,” Apalta Valley, Chile, '05 This was amazing! Just a great all around bold red wine which went very well with most everything we had. 2) Waiter recommended French wine - Unfortunately I didn't catch the name of this wine but it was a great recommendation from our waiter. It was very tannin heavy and went really well with the duck. 3) Elio Perrone Moscato d'Asti Sourgal 2007 This was a sparkling muscat dessert wine. This was amazing. You don't even need dessert with bad boy. I'm hot on the search for this wine as we speak.
Price: This place isn't cheap but it's not expensive for the quality, quantity, and type of food you see popping up at these types of place around LA. My bill for 4 people came out to $280 which included 6 glasses of red wine and a bottle of the dessert wine(yes, we liked it that much). Update. To put the cost into perspective, we spent about $130 in wine, yup, we couldn't get enough of it. So overall, after tax and tip, per person food wise, the cost was about $38 a person.
Overall: This restaurant has just taken first place in my list of favorite restaurants to eat in LA. Not only because of the vibe but the food overall is incredible. Some of the best food in LA and found at a wine bar no less. I will be going back here many times in the coming days just to revisit my first experience here. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves food!