In the beating heart of Manchester many would regard Deansgate as the pulsing aorta. Packed with shoppers in surrounding St Anne’s square and King Street by day, full of revellers enjoying some of the finest bars by night. La Vina sits right in the centre, grandiose in appearance yet rustically eloquent. It’s a Manchester mainstay, bolstering itself in the city for many years.
Stepping from the cold November streets into the warm hues of La vina, charming brushed wrought iron wrapped round dark solid wood surrounded us. Soft, shadowing candle light flickered, oozing traditional Spanish charm, sombre yet romantically sophisticated.
To start with we had the Serrrano Reserva (cured ham) and the Montadito Sarina Ahumada (grilled bread topped with olive oil and sardines). The Serrano Reserva, as suggest in the menu, wasn’t too salty as many cured hams can be, it was sliced very thinly, and the slithers of fat melted as soon as it hit the tongue.
There was a huge abundance of tapas dishes on the menu, which made it difficult to choose! Staring with the classics, Patatas Bravas and Gambas Pil Pil were an obligation to gauge a good Spanish restaurant, both were perfection.
Next, we ordered spinach croquettes from the daily changing specials menu, a crispy light cushion, oozing a silky centre accompanied with a slightly lacklustre chilli sauce. The sherry braised pork cheek was a decadent hearty number, with melt in the mouth cheek sprinkled with crispy shallots
The star of the show was a pork bean stew, recommended by the very helpful waiter. Crispy, meaty black pudding adorned rich, fatty pork belly cooked to perfection, all brought together with a paprika explosion dousing the chorizo.
Others included a beautiful looking stuffed chicken which unfortunately was a bit dry for my taste. Fried aubergine lacquered with aromatic truffle oil was wonderful.
If all that rich Spanish food wasn’t enough, we decided to attack desert with an open mind, as Spain is not known for its desserts. The traditionally Portugese churros were fluffy, sweet and dusted in cinnamon. A chocolate orange brownie was a rich dense final offering and I devoured every crumb.
At the end the waiter recommended we tried the sherries as a palette cleanser to finish. Very popular amongst many Spaniards at the end of a meal, we were enticed by tradition. Warm and very boozy with a hint of treacle, at 3 for £12, it was a great finisher.
Amongst all the recent openings of not just Spanish restaurants in the city La Vina has showed its resilience. Changing and improving to keep its head above water in a very fast-moving landscape is admirable in such a sought-after location. The abundance of weekday deals and offers entice new customers and regulars alike.