$15 three-course deal at Tasca
I'll be the first to say that Tasca is not the most reliable Chow destination - we crossed it off our regular rotation long ago in favor of Taberna de Haro - but this is a good deal: Mon - Thurs evenings, while it lasts (unclear how long that will be) they are offering a full three-course meal (not tapas) for $15, along with a selection of wines by the glass for $6 - $7.
It's an insider thing - you have to ask for the special $15 menu, but they gladly provide it if you do. What's odder is, it's not even a Spanish menu, more like international eclectic.
We checked it out last night. Both of us had the tuna tartare to start, which was equal parts tuna and cucumber served on a bed of baby greens with a very light sesame seed dressing (could have used more zing, but was a nice light starter). Other starter options included a roasted garlic & thyme soup, chicken & corn chowder, and rabbit-bolognese-stuffed cannelon in a smoky cheese sauce.
For an entree I had the duo of sangria-braised lamb and pork "osso buco," which was very good, a smallish lamb shank and a chunk of pork rib, both cooked to falling-off-the-bone tenderness in a rich wine sauce with carrots, accompanied by quite decent mashed potatoes. My wife had the calves liver and onions, which was not quite such a success - the liver itself was good, quick seared and tender, still pink in the middle, but very thin slices (like under 1/4"). It was served with OK caramelized onions and inedible onion rings - they appeared to have been made with something like panko coating, but were very chewy and had very little onion flavor. Also the same respectable mashed.
Other entree options include sole, pork chop, spinach & cheese ravioli, and ham hock with peas over pasta.
Dessert was the best course - wife had a pair of dense chocolate truffles served with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle, I had one of the best flans I've eaten in years. A third choice was pineapple cheesecake.
Portion sizes were reasonable, not huge - we finished everything (except those onion rings) and left well-fed but not groaning. Service was friendly and prompt - almost too prompt, it seemed as if each new course followed its predecessor by seconds. But hey, at these prices they're entitled to go for turnover. And apparently the items on the $15 menu change regularly, what I've described are this week's offerings
A wine tip - having had it before, we chose a bottle of Paso a Paso tempranillo - delicious stuff, not too fruity, very flavorful, a great value at $25. Total tab for two with a bottle of wine: $55 plus tax (and an oversized tip, no reason the server should suffer because the restaurant is trying to survive difficult times). Nice!
I've been twice... the menu has been changing on a weekly basis over the past several weeks.
The timing of my dishes have been ranging from pleasant to 'did they forget us?' But our waiters have been fine otherwise...
The flan has been successful both times. The cheesecake recipe has been different the two times we had it... the first time it was rather thick and more savory than sweet, the second time it was sweet and creamy but the crust was a little limp.
The portabella carpaccio was my favorite appetizer thus far as it was refreshing and flavorful, the rabbit canelon followed as I wiped the dish clean with some bread.
The filet steak was quite good, and portions were great for all the meat dishes we ordered... the ravioli however was rather skimpy, with only three pieces on the plate.