Granted Tasca on Third Street doesn't purport to be a traditional tapas bar or try to jump in on the waning trend. But it gets lumped in that category anyway, because Tasca's menu is divided between small and large plates. A little bit of ordering confusion arises in our group, at which point I remember that small plates sometimes makes things more difficult rather than convenient. In the end, however, we're fed and happy, and that's what matters.
Excellent pacing and service have a lot to do with our good moods at the end of the night. The owners are just so damn nice here. (I'd been warned.) Never are we rushed, and we don't ever feel ignored either. Food comes out just at the right time, with no competing for table or palate space. We have a lovely chat with Gustavo (owner, I think) about Buenos Aires in between courses. I silently forgive them for playing the Gotan Project, that most tired of hip restaurant soundtrack staples. (I'm hardly in a position to criticize since I'm going to the Gotan show at the Bowl the next night.)
No BYOB means H can bring a versatile enough Consilience 2002 Great Oaks Vineyard syrah, which makes me very jealous. While BYOB has its obvious perks, I'm also glad Tasca finally gets its liquor license next week, so look forward to some good malbecs. Hopefully this development will increase the buzz and put some more butts in the bar stools that sat empty on Saturday night.
And what about the food, you ask? With the exception of a couple off-notes, it's all on target. Baby artichokes with heirloom tomato slices are firm yet chewy, and bring the simple ingredients together. The portion is much bigger than I expect, too. I could've gotten another order of the truffled potato chips. Rich heavy dishes are best, like the braised short ribs and fettuccine with duck confit. Had I been focused on the wine I would've ordered more food in this genre rather than stuck to the light stuff, like the disappointingly bland baby octopus salad with mussels, roasted peppers and olives.
If you're looking for a dessert smorgasbord you best go elsewhere. Tasca offers only about four items, but two of which we can vouch for their quality. Strong espresso flavor runs through the gooey chocolate pot du creme, and apple pocket with vanilla ice cream is filled with robust roasted fruit and thankfully, no icky syrups or other fruit byproducts are involved.
Most of the tables are full on Saturday night, plus there's a little scene of outside diners chillin' on sensible outdoor chairs. While these folks get to enjoy their smokes, they miss out on the blue/brown scheme with antique mirrors and rich woods inside. And the best touch? The eclectic selection of beautiful old silverware, likely collected from vintage stores and flea markets in Buenos Aires. I should've spent more time antique hunting there.
8108 W. Third Street
Los Angeles 90048