They’ve already found huge success in Ilkley, Boston Spa and Horsforth, but now La Casita has finally found a spot in Leeds city centre…
From one tapas joint to another, La Casita has opened its doors in the old Bilbao unit under the arches on Granary Wharf. It’s not their first Leeds venue, in fact, this will be their fourth opening since they launched their Ilkley restaurant four years ago – but it is our first chance to try their delicious tapas so close to home and we ain’t complaining.
It’s the work of Yorkshire trio, Simon Miller, Oliver Renton and Ben Riley. Simon is the chef and he has a background in fine dining. He’s worked at The Box Tree in Ilkley and also alongside Marco Pierre White in London, so he’s got proper culinary creds and he’s put them to good use in La Casita, combining traditional Spanish tapas dishes with modern cooking techniques like sous vide to cook up an eclectic feast.
The result is a menu that switches from classics like patatas bravas (potatoes in a lightly spiced tomato sauce with garlic aioli) and langostinos a la plancha (roasted king prawns with spring onions and parsley) to creative and incredibly adventurous dishes like surf & snout (crispy suckling pig with prawn and pancetta). This isn’t just your usual tapas, sure it has your favourites, but you can try something new and exciting too.
It’s rich, filling food, so you only need around three plates each, that gives you an excuse to come back right there, and Simon gave us his personal recommendations. “I always like manchego croquettes. They’re made very traditionally Spanish with the bechamel and manchego cheese and served with caramelised onion puree that’s slowly cooked down over three to four hours, so the onions go that caramel colour, that’s probably one of my favourite vegetarian dishes,” he told us. “If I had to go for a meat dish, it would probably be the suckling pig. It’s slow cooked, we cook it overnight, press it and crisp it up.”
They’ll have all the usual charcuterie too, with jamón serrano somalo reserve and salchichón Ibérico Montanegra cular, alongside Montbru Garrotxa, Serramunt Spanish Brie and Villadiego Manchego D.O. But you’ll also want to save space for pudding. If you’re into parfait, they’ve plenty of options – we’re talking salted caramel, sloe gin and white chocolate and honeycomb. They also do churros, the popular Spanish treat, try them with cinnamon sugar or dark chocolate sauce.
Of course, you could always skip pudding entirely and jump straight to their dedicated menu of espresso martinis. That’s right, they’ve teamed up with North Star Coffee to create a menu of five espresso martinis with a series of unique twists on the classic cocktail. You can have it straight, with a shot of Bailey’s or a hit of chocolate orange – you can also try it the Spanish way, with their PX dessert wine.
They’ll have lots of other cocktails too, with all the classics and their own creations – like the Ginito, a twist on the Mojito made with gin rather than rum. And if you’re a fan of Mother’s Ruin, you’ll be able to work your way through 25 different types of gin, including a wide variety of Spanish gins, because they go so well with the tapas.
Or why not try something from the wine list? They’ve got a little something for everyone, with a particularly good selection of riojas, but Simon would have you try something a little bit different, “Try the Barinas Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fantastic, it’s like no sauvignon you have ever tried, it’s not like a New Zealand one which is quite acidic, it is very fruit-driven, with passionfruit, mango, almost like a Rubicon-type fruit flavour, so that would be my go-to white wine, it’s fantastic.”
The restaurant itself will have the same tell-tale style of the arches, but they’ve put their own spin on it with red brick quarry tiles, Salvador Dalí prints and a warm, welcoming colour palate that has that distinctly Spanish feel to it. And although the food feels quite high-end, the atmosphere is really relaxed, and the prices aren’t going to make you flinch (we’re talking £4.50 for patatas bravas, £5.95 for calamares and £8.95 for something a little more extravagant like filete de ternera).
La Casita, Little Neville Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BR. Opening hours, 12pm to 11pm Monday to Thursday, 12pm to 12am Friday to Saturday and 3pm to 10pm on Sunday. Food times are slightly different, but you can get their charcuterie boards throughout the day.