Restaurant review: La Casita, Victorian Arcade, Ilkley

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Some people love nothing better than sharing food with their family and friends.

It’s a custom that spans back for centuries where people join forces over their love of dining.

The chaos of a free-for-all of everyone fighting over the last morsel of food is hardly flattering.

In fact, it is nothing short of culinary chaos.

As far as Oliver is concerned once you have made your choice you should have to deal with the consequences.

Even if it means having to spend the evening staring longingly at your dining partner’s meal after making the “wrong” decision.

But there are very few occasions when Oliver will grit his teeth and begrudgingly share his food.

It was only going to be a matter of time before Oliver ventured into the grandeur of one of Ilkley’s most outstanding buildings to sample a taste of tapas.

La Casita, which translates as Little House, has recently opened its doors in the beautiful Victorian Arcade.

Keeping many of the setting’s original architectural features, the new owners have added a special Spanish twist to their designs.

My dining partner and I walked up the sweeping staircase to the restaurant and were greeted by a delightful outside seating area.

For one moment you could almost forget you were in Yorkshire and were instead drifted into a laid-back Spanish street bar.

Oliver noted the plentiful supply of small blankets draped over the back of the chairs just to keep the northern chill off diners’ shoulders.

The 68 cover tapas bar is co-owned by business partners Ben Riley, Simon Miller and Oliver Renton.

Simon, who hails from Menston, has previously held the head chef position at The Fleece in Otley and Piazza by Anthony Flinn in Leeds.

He was also the sous chef at Ilkley’s Michelin-starred The Box Tree which is certainly sure to be something of a hit for diners in the town.

Plus his talent shone through when he become a quarter-finalist on BBC’s MasterChef two years ago.

My dining partner and I set our expectations high although we were questioning what could be so special about tapas.

After all in parts of Spain the snacks are often given away for free to people in bars to accompany their drinks.

But as we entered the Victorian Arcade we just knew that we would be in for something special.

We decided to sample the restaurant on a Thursday evening and we had some slight trepidation over whether we should pre-book a table for our visit.

Thankfully our decision paid off because the restaurant was fit to burst at the seams.

We were both pleasantly surprised with just how busy it was and would definitely recommend to book in advance for fear of missing out.

We were shown by a waiter to our table, which was the only empty one inside the restaurant, tucked away in the back corner of the room.

The decor was striking with bright red walls which were decorated with a selection of Spanish paintings and photographs.

We ended up sitting next to a large photograph of four men wearing flat caps which added a nice Yorkshire twist to the venue.

We were left to peruse the extensive wine menu which offered a variety of Spanish wines and beers.

I opted for a glass of the Costa Cruz rose wine which was crisp and fruity. My dining companion opted for a pint of Alhambra beer.

We waited patiently for our drinks and after nearly 15 minutes we placed our food order - although this could easily be forgiven due to the packed restaurant.

When we placed our orders we were told we could face a wait for food because the kitchen was busy. But as we glanced at the other tables we were more than happy to wait.

The paper menus doubled up as place mats which slightly surprised us at first especially when our waiter didn’t take them away.

We decided to order a selection of mixed breads with oil and a tomato salsa to stave off our hunger.

The bread was a perfect starter and we only had to wait for 15 minutes before our main courses started to fly out of the kitchen.

We would have gladly waited for longer because the food was extremely impressive.

We opted for the Spanish Tortilla which was packed full of flavour and this was followed by the ox cheek slow cooked in red wine.

The ox cheek just melted in your mouth and was cooked to perfection - we thought we had found our favourite dish of the evening until the lamb stew arrived.

The braised lamb stew was served with iberico ham lentils and my dining partner ate his share with a huge smile on his face.

We were then presented with a beautifully dressed plate of pan-seared black pudding with crispy pigs ears and a poached egg.

The black pudding was smooth and tasty and the pigs ears worked will be adding a crisp texture to the meal.

And then came the pan roasted crab cakes with a creole salsa which were simply divine.

It was hard to pick our favourite dish because they were all brilliant and there wasn’t even a scrap of food left on the plates.

Luckily for Oliver my dining partner was more adverse to sharing and happily offered the remaining crab cake that was left staring at me on the plate.

We followed our meal with a blackberry and sloe gin parfait and a chocolate and coffee parfait.

The delicious treats both came on the same slate but Oliver refused to share his chocolate .

After all sharing his sweet tooth is just one step too far for Oliver.

Overall our meals came in at just under £50 which seemed like fantastic value for such a high standard of food.

FACTFILE

Address: The Victorian Arcade, Ilkley, LS29 9DY

Opening times: Mon-Sat noon to 10pm, Sunday noon to 5pm.

Tel: 01943 601062.

Website: www.lacasitailkley.co.uk.

Star rating

Food *****

Value *****

Atmosphere ****

Service ***

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