La Casa

Yesterday my friend and I went to La Casa, a wine bar/tapas bar in Shadyside. On the way, there were a lot of other cute little houses that had wine bars/lounges and the likes. Also strangely, a lot of antique stores. This part of Shadyside (Ellesworth Ave.) is kind of unique, I think, and I would love to try some of these other places as well. But anyway, I decided to come because I had a groupon for this place and needed to use it up.

Bread and Olive Oil with Herbs and Balsamic Glaze

Before I even start talking about the food, however, I would like to talk about the place and service. While the restaurant is small, has okay interior design, the aluminum tables are a little off putting. Maybe they’re new and just starting up and don’t have money? Okay, but the service and staff isn’t great either. There was this one waitress/server who was wearing a football jersey with jeans. It was very unprofessional, given the type of restaurant (wine bar, think classy, dim lights, and easy going music). Also, since the place was tiny, her voice bounced off every single wall in the restaurant, and for the first half an hour or so, our conversation was almost flooded out by her voice. Again, not so professional, especially given the atmosphere of this place. Finally, I also heard her swear, not to mention see her pour herself a drink from a large jug (who knows if it has alcohol… but still) and proceed to drink it while ringing us up. If they want to be classy and have a wine/tapa bar, they need to do something about this women.

The bread is strangely flattened…

So moving on to the food. We were served bread only after 10-20 minutes, which was quite a wait if you ask me. The bread wasn’t anything special either.  Well, maybe it was, but not in a good way. For some reason, all the bread that was served was very flat… although warm, which is good. It makes me think that maybe it was accidentally smushed during transportation or something, but they served it anyway. I don’t think it was intentional, but maybe it was. I have no idea. Also, I wish they used balsamic vinegar instead of glaze. I couldn’t taste the balsamic vinegar at all, and the herbs on top didn’t taste like anything either. Actually, come to think of it, the oil/dip didn’t taste like anything period. Stale olive oil? They should have used something better.

Calamares, salsa picante – Calamari sautéed in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce.

I like tomatoes sauce and garlic, so this was a very good dish. The calamari was pretty fresh, and the sauce was good for dipping bread into as well. I liked this dish.

Breouatte – Traditional Moroccan crispy rolls served with a spicy teriyaki sauce.

This wasn’t anything too special, and I wouldn’t get it again. The filling wasn’t very seasoned… just a little sweet, and honestly most of the vegetables were in some sort of over-cooked-mush state that I couldn’t tell what was in it. The dough was also too thick, so the inside also had some gooey dough as well. I think the dipping sauce was some sort of soy sauce mixture… and overall the dish just tasted like generic deep fried spring rolls from a cheap Chinese restaurant. This is definitely the least favorite of all the dishes.

Champinones de cangrejo – Stuffed mushrooms with crabmeat.

This is probably my favorite dish of the bunch. It was definitely very well seasoned. The crab meat had some cheese on it, and spices made it very fragrant (cumin? or maybe it was fontina cheese?). It was also drizzled with olive oil, which was good. It was generally well made, and I would highly recommend this dish.

Zaalouk – Traditional Moroccan eggplant dip.

This was also a very tastey dish. We originally wanted the ceviche, but they were out that day. It was the only cold tapa we got. It came with baked pita, which were crispy. I wonder if they made their own pita… which I kind of doubt, honestly. It didn’t really look like pita, actually, more like flat bread or something. Anyway, the dip was good. Very thick and heavy in tomato tastes, which I liked. The eggplants were soft, but not mush. I would get this dish again if I came back.

We didn’t get drinks, but they do have a wide variety of them, from wines to margaritas and sangrias. They’re also a little short on staff, since there was only one waiter.

Overall, I think I would only come back to this place as a girls night out type of thing. Its fancy (minus that unclassy waitress/women), and I think the food is decently good. I would come back for the atmosphere and the fact that tapas are kind of fun, not because the food is spectacular or anything. Again, decent but not amazing.


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