In the days before lockdown, the Social Bitches dined & drank rampantly. All for review purposes, of course! One of our final nights out was at the wonderful La Casa. And now, with the Dalry Road restaurant open for pick-up & delivery, we can at long last tell you just how fabulous the food is.
With a reputation for being big on flavour, and offering small plates that are anything BUT small, we are excited to dine at the family-owned La Casa. It’s also an extremely sunny day – in March! – so we’re practically hysterical.
After choosing a suitably cheeky vinho verde, we find ourselves seduced by just about every delicious item on the menu. Perhaps sensing we might never dine out again, we seem to be approaching dinner as if it might be our last.
Fortuitous, or what?
So, while 3- 4 tapas dishes are said to be more than enough for even the most robust of appetites, our response is: pish-posh!
Suddenly scores of alleged “small plates” are en route to our table, along with two main dishes, and a back-up bottle of vinho verde. You know, just in case.
“It all looks SO-OOO A-MAZ-ING,” we say, hoping to excuse this ridiculous greed.
Our waiter, without hint of judgement, suggests we might struggle with this many dishes. Again, our misguided response is: pish posh, and soon we’re diving into a generous bowl of Fried Chorizo.
It boasts just a hint of crispiness, but remains wonderfully moist. It also owes much of its intense and spicy flavour to the welcome addition of red wine. Truly, THIS is sensational!
It’s joined by the utterly sinful Saganaki– that’s a compliment by the way – which is pan-fried Kefalotiri cheese with honey & sesame seeds. The cheese is soft but not runny, its saltiness really rather sublime.
Meanwhile the sweetness of the honey, and the nuttiness of the sesame offer the perfect contrasts, making this delicacy taste almost dessert-like. Topping up our glasses of vinho verde, just a tad, we toast our happy discovery.
Moments later, even more gorgeous dishes arrive. The incredibly creamy Croquettas with serrano ham, the even creamier Croquettas with mozzarella & manchego, and the stunning Padron Peppers: fried with sea salt & parmesan.
So simple, yet so bursting with flavour. Every mouthful of these classic tapas ends with a small involuntary moan of pleasure. In fact, whoever perfected this croquettas recipe deserves a medal. Did we mention how creamy they are??
And again, we have to say these are incredibly generous portions. Maybe the waiter had a point.
Undeterred, we begin pouring the second bottle of vinho, and feast upon one of our all-time favourites: Deep-fried calamari rings with aioli. Happily, this is a faultless example. The squid is utterly fresh, the batter both delicate and crisp.
But we’re not finished yet! We’ve also ordered the Patatas Bravas in a spicy tomato sauce – which is sensational – and a rather gorgeous Pan-fried halloumi [ one of our favourite things in life ] with caramelised onions and almond flakes.
It’s possibly about now we should at least consider lying down. Or perhaps a private, tastefully decorated clinic for the treatment of acute eating disorders?
Instead, we’ve find ourselves unable to resist yet another dish, this one
suggested by our lovely hosts. Called Loukanika, it’s simply Greek pork sausage stew with leek, peppers, and tomato, but oh-my-god!
The meat is so tender, the spice so perfectly judged, and the combination of flavours just wonderful. Isaac begins comparing this heavenly creation to Christmas. Why I’m really not sure, so I smile, nod, and pour more wine.
We are of course now ready to burst, a realisation that’s quickly followed by the arrival of our mains. Clearly, even for us, this is way too much food.
It would at this point be entirely appropriate for our waiter to do an elaborate “I-told-you-so” dance. Joined, perhaps, by a musical trio and an exotic woman with long black hair and castanets.
Instead he sweetly asks if we’d like more wine. In unison, we say: YES PLEASE!
Unsurprisingly, we don’t quite manage to finish these final two dishes. After all, there’s still dessert to think about! But we can assure you that the bold addictive tastes and generous portions continue to be strong themes.
The Pollo con champinones y crema– aka pan-fried chicken fillet with mushrooms, cream & white wine is gorgeous. The rich, creamy sauce is absolutely dazzling.
Meanwhile the Linguine al Greco, which boasts perfectly cooked pasta with aubergine, feta cheese, tomato & basil is another triumph of flavour.
The moral of this story, obviously, is there’s really no need for mains. The best way to experience the joy that’s created in La Casa’s kitchen is to take a strictly tapas approach. Now we know!
Fortunately, a brief respite and a bijou glass of port soon put us in the mood to at least sample something sweet. So we’re able to report the Baklava and Churros con chocolate are also rather divine, and just a little bit sinful.
For such a great night, and truly wonderful food, we’d like to give Maria and the rest of the staff at La Casa, Leith Walk a massive thank you – one as big as our appetites. We look forward to seeing you VERY soon!
In a nutshell:
Dinner – Delivery & Collection
Tapas £3 – £7
Mains £11 – 13
Wine from £12
103 – 105 Dalry Road
0131 337 2875
[ Leith Walk Restaurant currently closed ]