Editor's note: La Mancha will close on 23rrd Aigust 2015.
There is a new chef at La Mancha, the previous one having recently retired. One positive consequence of this is that the new chef is making many of the desserts in the kitchen, rather than buying them in. Otherwise things are unchanged, with the same friendly Sicilian owner and the same waiting staff.
Prawns with garlic sauce were of decent quality, were tender and had a nice punch of garlic flavour (12/20). Patatas bravas were decent, though a little soft in texture and the tomato sauce could have been livelier; not the best version that I have eaten (11/20). Sardines were simply grilled with butter, and were pleasant, though these were of fairly ordinary quality (11/20). Salt cod was better, toning down the saltiness to sensible levels, the fish good (12/20). Iberico ham was not well prepared, the cutting leaving too many pieces hard in texture; the flavour was decent enough, but the overly thick slices ended up being too chewy.
Paella was unusual in that it used a form of pasta rather than rice, but was otherwise much as you would expect, with a mix of shellfish, fish and sliced sausages adding a bit more depth of flavour; the pasta was tender, and this unusual take on a classic dish was the best of the night (easily 13/20).
Crème caramel with strawberries and apple, and this had nice texture, the fruit usefully bringing balancing acidity (12/20). Overall this is a good neighbourhood restaurant, and the new chef seems a bit more adventurous than the previous one, relying less on the deep fat fryer than his predecessor. The bill came to £50 with some nice wine, and if you shared a bottle of modest wine your bill might be around £45 or even less.
Further reviews: 19th Aug 2013
The Cava was awfully sharp. We thought the tapas dishes were more like main course size. Very strange fried aubergine was too fatty but very nice staff, and we will try again. Really like your site you and I are eating at the same places will keep in touch sue B
Mr. Hayler, I am one of your vicarious fans, meaning I enjoy your blog without being able to indulge in serious dining out myself. It never would have occurred to me that I might be able to make a positive contribution, but if your picture of "pasta instead of rice" paella is an indicator, it is not an innovation, but a very common dish using a short pasta called fideus. For want of a better strategy I am offering the link that came out on top, a recipe produced by a Google search. http://stevediana.weebly.com/paella-fideus.html