If you’re in sunny Manchester and you find yourself with a craving for good Spanish Tapas, look no further than La Vina Spanish Restaurant, 105 Deansgate, Manchester.
Situated over two levels, it is a traditionally decorated Spanish restaurant with plenty of natural light, accented by tasteful mood-lighting which creates a welcoming and cosy atmosphere.
We were quickly tended to, seated and offered a good, if not terribly extensive, drinks menu. While many drinks are available from beer to wine, and spirits, we decided on the Sangria, which comes in various styles. We chose a mojito based sangria, which was basically a mojito with white wine. It seemed a good light choice for lunch time. The pottery jug we were given gave us each a glass (poured by our waiter) with a little bit extra for later.
As for the food itself, we were given ample time to decide what we wanted, and we went for the tapas menu, which meant we could try everything on the menu between the four of us. When the food arrived, it filled the table – there was almost no room for our plates.
For those new to the idea of tapas, it’s a traditional Spanish meal served in small portions, shared among the people eating. If sharing your meals isn’t your thing, I wouldn’t recommend this. For those who love to eat, and talk, and spend a good hour or so grazing through your food, enjoying the company of others – this is a perfect way to do it.
The food is traditionally Spanish tapas, from the patatas bravas to the grilled chorizo – everything was well presented: the fried fish in a little metal basket with accompanying aioli, the chorizo slices with little bread sticks presented on a wooden board, the patatas bravas and patatas a lo pobre in tiny frying pans. There was also a little meatball dish called albondigas which was simply amazing. Melt-in-your-mouth meat that was just to-die-for.
Among the four of us, we were hard pressed to find something that we wouldn’t have ordered again, except for a dislike of salads by a couple in our group. The cheese and ham croquettes went too quickly and were a group favourite.
All in all, it was a lovely place to have lunch or dinner, clearly very popular with both tourists and locals, so booking might be a good idea, particularly on weekends. A great Spanish feel with traditional Spanish food.
Total bill: 54.95 (for four people, incl. drinks)
Alternatively, located at 44 Canal Street, Villaggio is a quaint restaurant. The smaller upper level enjoys a view of the street below, and diners can watch the party-goers wandering the streets as they drink and dine, or you can choose to sit in the more secluded lower section which provides a nice sense of privacy from the world outside. The decor is simple, if a little plain, but what it lacks in outlandish decoration it makes up for in good service and high-quality food at a reasonable price. Of our group of four, three of us chose the two-course special, which is a selection of starters and mains for just 15.00 pounds. The individual items are still reasonably priced, and this offers a saving of a few pounds per diner.
On this occasion we opted for lasagne, which came served in its individual baking dish, still bubbling from the heat, penne siena in a creamy sauce and two of us tried the chicken breast and steamed vegetables. The meals were well presented and quite tasty. The sauce on the chicken was thick enough to stick to the chicken, but not be gluggy, and the vegetables were perfectly cooked through, without losing their colour and texture. My friends seemed to enjoy their dishes also, none commenting that there was anything they didn’t like. I refrained from digging my own fork in to try a bit of each. We were visiting on a quiet Sunday evening, and the service was prompt but not rushed, and the staff were attentive to our every need.
Villaggio is a quiet restaurant with a good choice of food and a decent-enough wine list to keep most diners happy. A comfortable place to eat without too much razzle-dazzle and pizazz, just a welcoming atmosphere and a quiet ambience.
Total bill: 58.60 (for four people, incl. drinks)