date of visit: Monday 9 January 2012
There had been a bit of buzz on twitter about Tasca Viva when it opened late last year but it’s taken us a little while to head down to Jetty Road to check it out for ourselves.
It’s a good thing we ended up going on a Monday because I rang up about an hour before we wanted lunch to book a table for 6, plus a high chair. No problems at all. Marvellous.
When we arrived we’d been seated at one of the high tables inside (the inside part was requested) but we quickly decided we didn’t fancy sitting on bar stools so we asked to move. No problems at all. This helpful, friendly service set the tone for the whole rest of our lunch. Full marks for a casual venue getting it so right.
Finally settled in, we were able to take a serious look at the menu. Tasca Viva recommends 3-4 tapas plates per person or 2 raciones (larger portions) so for our group our waiter recommend 8-12 raciones. Inside I was having kittens because the raciones all come in around the $20 and this was meant to be a light (and therefore not too expensive) lunch.
Because everyone at our table had eaten breakfast at different times, we felt justified in ignoring the advice and ordered 5 raciones and two serves of patatas fritas (that would be chips, then). This actually turned out to be the perfect amount of food so I’d say unless you’re starving, go easy on the ordering. The great thing about this type of food is that it’s sharing food and comes to the table in a staggered manner, so if you’re still starving you can order more and indulge in some people watching while you wait.
We chose whitebait, octopus with chorizo, meatballs, pork belly and the chickpea and spinach stew. The definite winner was the whitebait. They were fab – crumbed in panko they were crunchy, fishy and not a bit oily. Served with a bit of parsley and lemon, they were perfect bar a pinch of salt.
Everything else was good too – just not as good as the whitebait. The octopus was tender, the meatballs (a very generous serve) were dense, tasty and with just the right amount of sauce, the pork belly, with apples and spinach, was melt in the mouth and the chickpea and spinach stew was aromatic with spices such as cinnamon, which remind us Spain has a Moorish past.
The chips were actually forgotten so we had a brief hiatus, which provided a useful excuse to order another bottle of wine. While the chips, with a smoky paprika and tomato sauce, were better than average, they actually fell a long way short of everything else we’d eaten (although my mum said she’d go back for the chips and whitebait alone).
We finished up all feeling quite full – so a walk along the jetty was called for. The final bill came in at $40 a head, which included 2 bottles of wine and 6 beers – so my initial worries about lunch being expensive were unfounded.
You could spend a fortune at Tasca Viva but our experience suggests that you needn’t. I imagine that on a Friday or Saturday night the place is packed, but if you’re after a lazy lunch then Tasca Viva can tick that box too.