18 Mar

Living in downtown DC and working in Crystal City I am surrounded by all things Jose Andres. I have been to the large majority of his local establishments (Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlantico) however until last weekend I had never made it to the one that started it all, Jaleo.

When we arrived for a late dinner just after nine on a Friday night the restaurant was packed. The wait was over thirty minutes and when we were finally seated it was at a rather awkward table in a tiny corner space. It was not exactly the most auspicious start to the evening. Then we ordered a carafe of sangria which the waiter delivered along with bread and oil that he poured from about three feet up into a little dish of rosemary and cracked garlic cloves. With an adult beverage in hand and something to munch on one while we perused the dizzying selection of tapas I began to warm up to the evening.

And then the food came. Jaleo subscribes to the traditional tapas bring it out when its ready style of service and our first dish out was scallops over butternut squash puree with clementines and pumpkin seeds. It was delicious. The scallops were perfectly seared and were complimented nicely by the brightness of the citrus and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds. The puree that held it all together was so good we mopped up every last bit. Next up, house made chorizo and bacon wrapped dates.  The chorizo, served with a tasty potato puree, was good but it wasn’t something I would be clamoring to order again. I had heard that the dates were an addictive little ditties but I found them a little disappointing and wish they hadn’t been deep-fried, all that breading took away from the bacon-y goodness I was anticipating. Our final dish however was a serious win, grilled quail with rosemary sauce and honey aioli. So good I am sure we could have eaten another four or five portions.

By the end of the evening Jaleo had definitely won me over. With over 60 dishes on the menu you can bet I’ll be back to sample a few more… plus I have a feeling I’m going to need to revisit that quail in short order.



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