La Casita specialises in authentic Spanish tapas dishes with a Yorkshire twist.
The business started out in Ilkley in 2014 but now has several branches across Yorkshire, including this one on Leeds’ picturesque Granary Wharf.
The quirky interior of La Casita’s city-centre branch blends industrial and traditional Spanish stylings, with images of surrealist Salvador Dali plastered on the walls. A padded bench peppered with small tables runs along one side of the restaurant, with a bar along the other.
There is an informal, bistro feel to the dining set-up, with menus that double up as placemats on each of the tables.
Staff offered us a very warm welcome, even though we were walk-ins. It was a sign of things to come - service throughout the evening was exceptional.
What’s the menu like?
Waiting staff recommended two to three dishes per person, so we split the difference and selected five between the two of us.
There is so much to choose from on the extensive tapas-style menu that we had to tell the staff we needed more time.
To speed up our decision-making, we decided to go for one dish from each of the menu’s sections - meats, cold-cured meats, fish, vegetarian and sides.
Now onto the food
Dishes arrived as they were ready, adding to the informal dining atmosphere. Each was presented with care, the chef’s evident enthusiasm for the ingredients shining through.
The rump cap steak with wild garlic chimmi churri (£7.40) was very good, bursting with flavour.
Spanish-food purists may raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of the famously Sicilian dish arancini on the menu, but La Casita’s wild garlic arancini with sun-dried tomato aioli (£5.70) was excellent; perfectly crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.
Our cured meat platter, Iberico chorizo (£5.25), was tasty but could have done with a little more bread.
A rocket and pine nut salad with truffle dressing (£4.75) was a welcome element of greenery in our meat-heavy selection. The truffle flavour didn’t overpower the dish, but some of the leaves were a little wilted.
And the monkfish wrapped in serrano ham with tomatoes and olives (£.7.50) was exceptional. The fish was perfectly cooked and the serrano ham added a wonderful depth of flavour.
And the drinks?
The bar is very well stocked, with an array of cocktails and Spanish wines to choose from, alongside beers and spirits. North Star coffee roasters pops up everywhere in Leeds these days - and here they are again, providing the base for a selection of espresso martinis.
Designated drivers are well catered for, with a small but imaginative mocktails menu. I opted for an apple and elderflower cooler, which deftly avoided falling into the common mocktail trap of being too sweet. My dining companion chose a very tempting-looking gin and tonic - lucky thing.
Room for dessert?
The tapas dishes aren’t huge so there was room in my stomach, but sadly not on my itinerary. It was getting late, so I grabbed a quick coffee instead - a short and strong macchiato that seemed suitably southern-European.
How much was the bill? Was it value for money?
Our five tapas dishes came to £30.60.
With drinks (apple and elderflower cooler at £4, Tanqueray gin and tonic at £7 and a coffee at £2.25), the bill came to £43.85 - which seemed pretty good value given the standard of the dishes.
The menu also advertises stew and tapas lunches each weekday for £7, which seems a great deal.
Address: Arch U Granary Wharf, Dark Neville Street, LS1 4BR
Telephone: 0113 2443360
Opening hours: Food is served Monday to Thursday noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 10pm, Friday noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 10.30pm, Saturday noon to 10.30pm and Sunday noon to 5pm.