As discussed in my recent post about my trip to the Lake District, on route to our weekend away we stopped off in the town of Darlington for a bite to eat. We usually are advocates of the restaurant chain La Tasca (which is a rarity for us as we’re not usually a fan of chain restaurants – TGI’s being another exception), however, Dave had discovered on Trip Advisor a tapas bar in the area called The Old Yard Tapas Bar – which was an award-winning restaurant. Obviously we had to try it, right?
The restaurant was described as a mix of Spanish and Greek tapas which grabbed my attention from the get go as this was something I had never experienced before. We were pleasantly surprised upon entry, as the venue looked exactly what it described on the tin – old. But a good old like rustic castle looking vibes, not run down old.
We were seated at the back of the restaurant, which was a quite calming spot with lit candles and relaxing Spanish music. The brick walls and décor reminded me of being sat in a castle, which provided a great rustic feel. Our drinks were ordered at the bar, and then we were given a long sheet of paper with the menu printed on, all with tick boxes next to it. The idea was to choose your choice of items off the menu, tick off on the sheet which ones you would like to order and then take this up to the bar and pay. To me, this was absolutely genius! As we’re quite indecisive and like to change out minds when it comes to ordering food, this allowed us the freedom to take as long or little as we liked and have the time to mull over our decisions.
The food menu was varied, and really did incorporate both Spanish and Greek as promised. There was definitely plenty to choose from, and we were left stuck for choice. The atmosphere was very relaxed, and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting here sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the ambience. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t as great as the atmosphere.
We ordered a bread basket and oils, but the bread arrived cold with rock hard butter and no oil dish to pour the oil and vinegar in – so we had to makeshift a bowl out of the butter dish. Dave ordered the scallops in a blue cheese sauce and garlic bread which he said was absolutely delicious, however when it came to the meatballs the sauce had a ‘curry’ like flavouring to it which didn’t really work amongst the tomato sauce.
The patatas bravas came with a rich tomato sauce infused with bacon bits which was delicious, however this also had the curry flavouring to it and was also missing the garlic mayo on the top which you get in most tapas restaurants. We asked if we could have some mayo to put this on ourselves and were charged an additional 50p for this, which we didn’t find out until paying the bill. For our final dish, we ordered the chicken wings which were pretty much just chicken wings…with no flavouring on. Whilst they had a nice crispy skin, they definitely lacked any sort of seasoning.
Overall, we were left satisfied and full from the generous portions, relaxed from the great ambience and impressed with the style of ordering – however the food did unfortunately let all of this down. I haven’t come away from this restaurant with bad vibes and wouldn’t detest re-visiting – but I also wouldn’t be in a hurry to go back. I will definitely stick to spending my money on La Tasca when it comes to my Tapas fix!