[This venue is now closed]
The name La Mancha will be familiar to all in West London and many from further afield. It was a veritable culinary institution in Putney but it’s found a new home, and to my mind a better one.
La Mancha is, in fact, a history-rich region of central Spain, south of Madrid. Don Quixote was a quintessential Man of La Mancha, who travelled with his donkey-riding side-kick, Sancho Panza. Don Quixote was also a man of ideals and dreams and he is commemorated on the walls of the restaurant.
This is a smaller venue than the Putney original but it’s perfectly formed, more contemporary and with the advantage of a nice bit of al fresco space. One can sit, on those balmy evenings, and people-watch. Plenty of room inside though, and also a private dining room with its own bar, for functions and celebrations.
Chiswick has been recognised as a dining destination for decades. Yes, there are plenty of chain options but also lots of smart independent restaurants such as La Mancha, which is an easy fit with the neighbourhood and discerning locals.
It’s a testament to La Mancha that it seems to have carried its Putney customers with it. We noticed that those in the know had followed the restaurant and there seem to be new regulars too. There is plenty of choice along the high street but La Mancha has already made its mark.
The restaurant sports an awning which advertises Tapas and Cava. The menu offers classics but the specials are for which to die. We started with Rebanata De Pan Con Tomate which is grilled bread, chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Quantity along with quality seems to be the rule here. This simple preparation is perfect with either a glass of red (lots of choice of wines by the glass) or the iconic Cava, an under-rated fizz that I adore.
Berejenas Fritas – crispy aubergines with honey and Romesco sauce – must surely be a signature dish. I remember this from Putney. These crunchy discs are as light as a feather and addictive. Don’t order just one of these for the table: I promise that will never be enough. A plate would do for just two greedy diners. That’s a reflection of its moreish quality rather than size of portions, which are famously generous. That extra order will reduce the likelihood of unseemly fisticuffs.
Croquetas De Atun Y Pimientos are tuna and red pepper croquettes. One has to indulge in traditional croquettes when visiting a tapas restaurant. They have a crunchy exterior containing a creamy savoury filling and they are deep-fried. That seems to tick all the boxes. There are four croquettes per order.
Carrillera Estofada, Guisantes Y Patata Dauphinoise were on the specials list which is always worth a look. They were a substantial portion of slow-cooked Iberian beef cheeks served with Dauphinoise potatoes and peas. The meat was melting and flavourful with a rich gravy. The peas were a sweet garnish but those potatoes were the best of that genre I have ever had. New Head Chef Kike Moledo is already proving his worth.
Born in Galicia, Northwest Spain, Kike spent his childhood spare time helping in the kitchen at his grandmother’s restaurant. That’s where he came to love food and cooking. Galicia has great produce from both land and sea so the lad would have been exposed to the best. Salvatore Cricchio, owner of La Mancha, says “I am delighted to have Kike on board as part of our team. His expertise in Spanish cuisine comes from his passion for cooking and dedication to learning new recipes.”
La Mancha is a casual restaurant with a refined accent. The dishes are first class and substantial, there are classics and innovation. The staff are friendly and attentive. The prices are better than reasonable and allow for return visits. It’s a restaurant at which one would like to be a regular. There can be no better recommendation. I’ll be reserving my table – the one in the corner by the window.
142 Chiswick High Road
London W4 1PU
[This venue is now closed]
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018