Las Rada tapas is a lot of fun, it’s lively and vibrant, the food is very good, and extremely good value. Expect lots of girls relaxing over wine and nibbles, and couples out for a bite and a night. The tapas are not strictly Spanish, but who cares, they taste good and are true to the concept. Paolo liked this spot a lot.
Tapas bars are slowly spreading around the country because, frankly, it's a fun way to eat.
Because each dish you order is small, you can have quite a few different tastes before you're full, and because they're small, they don't cost a lot, which, in these days of watched pennies, is no bad thing.
So this week, I went to try a tapas bar in Naas with Lisa McMullan, who, being a pretty fine chef herself, makes a good reviewing partner.
The bar is called Las Rada and it's just off New Row. If you're lucky, there are a few parking places outside; if not, you could end up like us, with a bit of a walk.
When I was a young lad, I spent four consecutive summers in Spain, mostly in Catalunya. I got to really enjoy the Spanish way of life and in particular Spanish wines and food, and I discovered the joy of pub crawls coupled with tapas.
Maybe I'm just remembering the fashion of the time, but inside Las Rada, I swear I could have been in a Spanish bodega.
Possibly it was the patterned plastering; it might have been the pierced-metal light fittings; maybe even the art -- but the overall effect was to transport me back in time to the bars I knew back then.
We took a table near the door and Lisa was the first to spot it. "I think you might be the only man in here," she said.
It turned out there was one other man, but essentially Las Rada is where you find the women. It does beg the question of where are the men, but that's a puzzle I'm happy to leave to the sociologists.
The tapas are listed on small menus, and updates and specials are on the wall.
There's a simple system: the tapas are divided into three -- €5 tapas, €6 tapas and €7 tapas. We decided that if we ordered six to share that would probably do us.
There was a short wine list which looked well priced, but both Lisa and I went for beer -- an Erdinger for her and a Fischer for me.
On the table, apart from the menu, were wine glasses, napkins and a piece of cutlery I haven't seen since I was a child. My mother had a set and they were called 'sporks'.
It's a combined spoon and fork -- think of a spoon with tines cut into its front edge and you have the idea. My mother used them for desserts, but they're perfect for tapas.
The first two tapas to arrive were the patatas bravas -- which I felt I had to order as a nod to Catalunya -- and the calamari.
The patatas bravas -- cubed, fried potato flavoured with smoky paprika -- were sensational, better than any I've had in Ireland. A real winner of a dish to start us off.
The calamari were quite good, the squid itself not rubbery, but the batter rather too crisped for my taste. Still, with the help of the tasty dips that accompanied them, we ate them all.
The next two that arrived were the lamb skewers and the tortilla -- the Spanish omelette. The lamb skewers came with a Jack Daniels sauce. Lisa took an instant dislike to it, but I quite liked it.
Well, to be precise, I quite liked it on its own, but when I dipped the lamb skewers into it, no flavour of Jack Daniels came through; it was totally overpowered by the lamb.
The tortilla was successful enough. We got a large slice to share and it was flavoured with Brie, broccoli and red onion.
Possibly not the best dish of the night, but certainly well made.
The last two dishes to arrive were the meatballs in a tomato sauce and a chorizo and chickpea stew.
The meatballs were made out of finely minced beef, which to my mind is correct, because it gives the meatballs a better mouth feel.
They were covered in a good tomato sauce, which, if we'd had bread, I'd have scooped up from its ramekin.
The chickpea and chorizo stew divided opinion at our table. Lisa really didn't like it, but she added that this may be the result of having had too many chickpeas over the past few months.
Six tapas is indeed about right for two reasonably hungry people, but it seemed a shame not to look at the dessert menu.
I let Lisa do the choosing, as I was determined to just have an espresso. She picked the lemon sorbet, as a light and refreshing way to end the meal.
Our waiter brought it with two spoons -- "Just in case," he said. I did take a taste, and was really impressed -- it was a smooth sorbet with no crystals and a really fresh taste of lemons. An excellent dessert.
I also need to tell you about my espresso. It came in a glass demi-tasse and you could see instantly that it was one of those rarities; a well-made espresso.
The top had a thick crema and I tried the sugar test -- that's when you see how long sugar will stay on top of the crema before it sinks down. The longer you wait, the better the crema.
My espresso was as good as any you'd get in Italy. Quite why this is a rarity I have no idea, but it gave me a great end to our meal, which came to €54.