Restaurant review: Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall

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Ah, tapas. That quintissentially Spanish dish – or dishes to be more exact – was the culinary choice for my latest review, at Casa Tapas in Rawtenstall.

One of my favourite restaurants, which I have returned to plenty of times over the years, Casa Tapas in Bacup Road has built a strong reputation as an authentic Spanish eaterie serving a wide variety of small but tasty dishes.

The menu is extensive, as it should be, as tapas dishes are generally small but designed to share. Indeed, the restaurant recently introduced a new and improved menu with 17 new dishes, whilst retaining 50 previous ones and the set meals, a la carte and paella.

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Tapas, as many will know, originated in Spain, and derives from the Spanish word ‘tapar’, or ‘to cover’. Small plates, or even thin slices of bread and meat, were placed on the top of glasses of sherry to prevent fruit flies from gathering.

A selection of the dishes at Casa Tapas, RawtenstallA selection of the dishes at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall
A selection of the dishes at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall

Tapas has evolved in more recent times, with dishes getting larger, and designed for sharing.

Thankfully, I only had to share with one, my partner Andrea, and we chose eight dishes that were brought to our table by a friendly waitress.

Our choices were a combination of meat, seafood and potatoes, and truly none disappointed. My only criticism was that they all seemed to come at once, and our tiny table soon became overwhelmed with dishes. A little more time between dishes would have been ideal.

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That said, we were there for the eating, and of course the drinking. A jug of sangria – what else – was ordered to wash down our food. It came with plenty of fruit, but perhaps could have carried a bit more of a kick, but again this was a minor quibble.

Gambas pil pil, at Casa Tapas, RawtenstallGambas pil pil, at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall
Gambas pil pil, at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall

Anyway, back to the food. Our seafood choices were mussels cooked in garlic and white wine, and my eternal favourite of gambas pil pil, prawns sauteed in garlic, olive oil and hot peppers. Both dishes were perfect for soaking up with chunky bread, which was another choice.

Our meat came in the form of marinated lamb chops, and Mediterranean staple chorizo, the spicy Spanish sausage pan fried in red wine.

Patatas bravas, deep fried potatoes in a spicy sauce, provided our carbs. Perhaps the stars of the show were two long-time favourites of ours – queso de cabra, grilled goat’s cheese and honey on an apple croute, and pimentos rellenos, peppers stuffed with lamb mince, spinach and rice topped with tomato and cheese and then baked in the oven.

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All dishes came out steaming hot and bursting with flavour. The restaurant itself is small, softly lit and intimate but there are larger tables as you would expect for a cusine that lends itself to group dining.

More of the dishes at Casa Tapas, RawtenstallMore of the dishes at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall
More of the dishes at Casa Tapas, Rawtenstall

As I mentioned earlier, the menu is very extensive. We didn’t choose any of the cold tapas on offer, which includes Spanish cured ham, manchego cheese and olives among others. A selection of Spanish stews and chicken dishes are also available.

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