La Vina provides a great atmosphere for couples or a group of friends to come in for a catch up over good food and drink. Individual dishes are served at the perfect size for two and they were great, meaning my friend and I rocked up a list of 8 savoury dishes, so for the purpose of this review, I shall just touch on some highlights of the night.
To start we were offered a bottle of Felix Solis Albali Arium Blanco, Spain. Food-wise we commenced with fresh bread with oils and a sun-dried tomato and herb dip, which was rich and tangy, and marinated green olives, which were un-pitted. This was perfect to go along side our next dish which was the Rustic Spanish Tabla. The dish consisted of Spanish dried meats and cheeses, which went perfect with the bread and olives we previously received. I very much recommend this combination to start off your meal as it is very light and continental that prepares your pallet for the meals to come.
Our next dish was a new step for me in terms of broadening my tastes and it isn’t for everyone, but to my surprise, it came out on top for me was the ‘Fritua Mixta’ – a lightly deep-fried medley of prawn, octopus, squid and muscles. To my surprise, this array of seafood, which is off-putting to most, was exactly the opposite of what I expected when trying it. The way that La Vina prepares and cooks their squid and octopus means that it is not chewy in the slightest. It was fresh and cleansing to my pallet. The coarse salt which is spread over the dish also added an extra dimension to the dish which I greatly enjoyed. I’d encourage everyone that doesn’t find seafood such as squid appealing to try this dish and it expels all previous thoughts about a tough, chewy texture.
Being a Spanish tapas bar, one dish which is always a must to try is the paella. If the paella is good, you know you’re in good hands. At La Vina, the tapas is prepared by the Head Chef right at the front door as you walk in, so you are already exposed to the traditional Spanish smells and flavours as you enter. This paella consisted of muscles and prawns with a tomato base and was also of a good standard. The head Chef at La Vina has obviously tried and tested this paella and has reached a good balance in flavours and textures in the dish. I have noticed over time that in some paella there is a lack of vegetables in proportion to the fish or meat, but at La Vina his was not the case.
To finish, we chose to opt for something from the special board – ‘Beuy al Jerez’ (steak in a sherry sauce.) This dish was bigger than the rest as it came with the addition of fried potatoes. I would suggest to ordering this as one of your first dishes, however, as at this point we were feeling rather full. However, this doesn’t mean that the flavour were not up to my standards, as they were. The sherry added a deep dimension to the steak, which went perfectly well with the fried potatoes, which had a very moreish flavour to them. Fried with onions and mushrooms, this plate was probably was definitely up there in the favourites of the overall meal.
A Spanish speciality which I would go just to La Vina for is their alternative sangrias. We personally tried the Cosmopolitan and Punch versions. My favourite was the punch as it was sweet and fruity, and had no essence of alcohol in its taste. The cosmopolitan was nice, but too sweet and sugary to my personal taste, but don’t let this put you off and with every cocktail, it is a personal experience due to preferred tastes. With many more to try and explore I am looking forward to visiting again to try the other options.
My experience of La Vina was definitely an enjoyable one. Its mature atmosphere added so much more to meal as it went hand in hand with the style of food they offer. La Vina may not just be in Manchester, but I feel as if it suits the style of the people of Manchester – a place for adults to escape the ties of the responsibilities that come with it and relax for a night. With a huge range of dishes for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, La Vina can be enjoyed bny all over a glass or two of wine and sangria all night long. There is no sense of rush. The staff at La Vina were extremely helpful and friendly when it came to recommending options in both food and drink with the added bonus of stopping to chat to you over general conversations if you wish.
If you would like to check out the menu or some of their tasting events please go to their website: www.lavina.co.uk