After two days in the beautiful Loch Lomond in Scotland and, un-regrettably, a lot of haggis, and I mean a lot, I was in the mood for something different. I had enjoyed some delicious haggis stuffed chicken in whisky sauce the evening we arrived in the hotel, and some more alongside sausages, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, black pudding and potato cakes for breakfast the next day. I even indulged in some haggis nachos (amazing!) for my dinner before deciding on some Spanish tapas at La Barca.

The restaurant, located about 15 minutes away from Loch Lomond, boasts its authentic taste of Spain, served with flair, in splendid surroundings. At first glance the latter was certainly true, looking over the River Clyde, which although dark, looked beautiful.

Inside it shows off the warming colours of Spain. Deep reds, yellows and orange scatter the surroundings. On the wall is a painting of a typical looking Spanish town. Impressive lights hang from the ceiling, whilst the bar shows off a large collection of wines. All in all it’s warm, friendly and I feel excited that we’ve stumbled into a good place.

After ordering two cokes from our friendly waiter we look over the menu, which contains a lot of exciting sounding things. The haggis balls sounded good, but I decided I had enough haggis for one trip. I was also tempted by the beef casserole with paprika, and I thought a chicken and chorizo paella would go down a treat, but after a lot of umming and ahhing we decided to share six tapas between the two of us.

They arrived within good timing and I began the sampling process, before digging in fully. First the Carilleras de Cerdo (slow roasted pork cheeks in apple, cinnamon and cherry sauce served with creamy mash) which was delicious. The pork cheeks must have been cooking for hours as they were perfectly soft, tender and full of flavour. The sauce was pleasantly sweet and tangy, although I couldn’t taste any cinnamon the sauce worked well with the mash, which was as promised, creamy.

Next I sampled the Croquetas de Pollo y Jamon Serrano (Crispy fried chicken and Serrano ham croquettes). A thick, crunchy crust encasing soft chicken, with more-ish salty ham mixed in a white sauce, they were delicious, a decent size portion too.

Next I tried Vieiras con Jamon Serrano y Asparago (Seared Scottish king scallops with Serrano and asparagus, cooked in Spanish sherry and a touch of cream). We ordered these for the other half, not a big fan of scallops myself I let him be the judge of that one. He said they were cooked perfectly, with a good sear around the edges. However, I tried the asparagus, a little rubbery but wrapped in that salty, perfect, melt-in-the-mouth ham, I was very pleased with that one.

The next dish was Filete con Salsa de Pimienta (Scottish sirloin steak strips in peppercorn sauce). This was the dish I was looking forward to the most, but was also the most disappointed in. On first glance the steak looked good, pink in the middle, but the portion was too small. I wasn’t expecting a whole slab of steak, but four slices of quite chewy steak – sadly I wasn’t impressed. However, the peppercorn sauce was good, creamy and strong. So strong if you get a piece of that pepper stuck in your teeth your done for, perfect!

We also ordered pork belly with black pudding, I didn’t get the Spanish name, but the meaty was soft, a little fatty but had a good crispy skin. The black pudding was cooked very well with a strong flavour that worked well with the sweet sauce that covered the dish.

The last dish we tried was, of course, Patatas Fritas (chips sprinkled with sea salt). They were chunky, soft in the middle slightly crunchy on the outside, a damn good chip, perfect for mopping up any left over sauces.

Overall, although not perfect, we both left stuffed and happy that we got to sample something a little different whilst staying in the beautiful Scotland. Would recommend if you’re in the area, and like me, ate too much haggis!

 

http://www.labarcahelensburgh.co.uk

Nov 2015

 

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