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Jaleo


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I was in Bethesda for work today and had a really tasty late lunch with a client at the local Jaleo. I tried to break away from my usual dishes...but as usual, I sorta caved.

Client had two seafood dishes which I did not taste (surprise, surprise):

Salmon con pisco manchego

Squid with caramelized onions

She seemed to like both - they both disappeared by the end of our long lunch - but as she is not very familiar with Spanish food, I think she was a little disappointed by the lack of spice. We (the waiter and I, that is) tried to prepare her in advance, but I don't think it got across; she still seemed to expect the spice of, say, some Mexican dishes.

Anyway...

The asparagus with Catalan romesco is a common choice for me, and the client and I shared it. It was tasty as usual, but the spears weren't as firm as I would have liked.

Instead of my usual chorizo skewer over garlic mashed, I had...the pork sausage with white beans (butifarra con 'mongretes'). OH. MY. The sausage is, ahem, large, shall we say, so when it arrived, my client (also female) and I giggled like embarassed schoolgirls. It was served atop a heaping helping of white beans with tons o' delicious garlic. The beans were like buttah, I swear. I'll be craving them for the next week or so (and perhaps smelling of them too I fear).

For my other dish, I also tried a new twist on an old favorite. Instead of the patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce), I had the patatas con Cabrales (you guessed it: fried potatoes with a sauce of my favorite blue cheese). This dish is on the seasonal tapas menu so I'll have to go back before it disappears. Loved it.

We each had one glass of sangria, but were too full for dessert (sorry, Steve!!).

Total with tip: $52ish

Oh, the service. We were among maybe five tables of customers scattered between the indoor and outdoor seating areas, so there was only one waitperson on duty when we arrived. Still, he was great, making adjustments on the fly when he realized that we weren't sharing most of the dishes (he had originally brought out the two seafood dishes first, intending to bring the rest as a second course). He was knowledgable and friendly, but mostly unobtrusive; in short, a real pro.

As for the decor, I'm much more enamored with the Bethesda location than the downtown one (although the latter is typically more convenient). It receive tons of lovely natural light and the decor somehow seems fresher and cleaner. Tables aren't as tightly packed either.

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In the interest of science, I went back to Jaleo tonight and ordered virtually the same meal as the one I had last week...but this time I dined downtown. I had always heard that the downtown location was better with respect to food, however after a few visits to each, I beg to differ based on selected dishes.

What struck me as particularly interesting was the portion size differential. Even though tonight I was there for dinner (and last week, lunch), my pork sausage dish was noticably smaller. The sausage itself was only a little smaller, but the quantity (and quality) of the accompanying beans was significantely less. And they just didn't taste as good. In Bethesda, they were buttery and irresistible.

The other big difference? We had dessert - flan with cardamon espuma. Yuuuuuuummm.

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I beg to differ based on selected dishes.

Think it's inconsistent now?

Don't worry: restaurants numbers five and six are opening up this year. That'll fix things right up.

Can anyone Carrabba-rate the projected opening dates for Jaleo and Oyamel in Crystal City?

Jaleo is going the way of Austin Grill. You heard it here first.

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Jaleo is going the way of Austin Grill. You heard it here first.

That was my bummer of the day. :sad: I hope not.

And Jenny, I have to agree with you. Scott's birthday dinner at the Bethesda Jaleo last year was markedly better than the meals I've had downtown since.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Jaleo is going the way of Austin Grill. You heard it here first.

Can you clarify this a little bit?

We were at Jaleo (Bethesda) on Saturday evening--had the bread/tomato, the cheese plate (man that blue cheese is great), the chorizo and garlic mash, morels with cabrales sauce, the grilled quail, the seafood soup, and that rice dish (not paella). Had the cheese/quince paste and the rice pudding for dessert.

The only thing that was no good was the rice, which was gloppy like badly made or old risotto. Everything else was great.

Really my only complaint besides the rice was that they serve the sherry in little tiny glasses. I wish I could have gotten a double in a wine glass--guess I should have asked.

I haven't been to Austin Grill but once, and found it to be passable tex-mex, not great, not bad, fine for the people we were with.

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  • 3 months later...

I went to the downtown location of Jaleo last night. It was, well, fine, but as I sat there sipping sangria with a friend, I found myself feeling really frustrated with the inconsistency of the food.

Over the course of the last few months, I have been to Jaleo at least three times (Bethesda once, downtown twice). Last night, I wanted to introduce my friend to two of my new favorites: the potatoes with cabrales, and a pork sausage served over white beans. They were so good when I first had them during my Bethesda visit.

However when I last went to the downtown Jaleo, I was disappointed in that the dishes didn't live up to my memory of them. I chalked it up to an off-night or simple variations in the chef's style. Foolishly, I gave them another chance.

Last night's "variations" were kind of bizarre. In the case of the pork sausage (too charred, by the way; dry inside), the beans served with the link were completely dry and covered with mounds of parsley. I had never had dry beans before so it was a bit of a shock. The last two times, the beans were pleasantly soupy and flavored with garlic (the second visit's portion was pretty tiny though). I really didn't know what to make of the beans...I'm still flummoxed.

The potatoes were also different this time. Instead of a sauce that incorporated cabrales, these potatoes were served with what looked like your average thin brown gravy and chunks of cabrales. It tasted fine, but I'm now unsure as to which is the intended preparation.

Will the real Jaleo please stand up?

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I go to Jaleo about every 5-6 weeks. I don't find the food generally fluctuates beyond the range of what I'd call acceptable. I don't want it cookie cutter. I want it to seem homemade but better. But I agree that every now and then I get a total dud dish I've enjoyed before and I wonder if I have built it up in my memory and it merely didn't live up to expectations or is it an off night for one of the line cooks? I've good luck when I ask the wait staff in the downtown branch what people been really happy with tonight. Not only do I get pointed towards new dishes, but also ones that are showing well that night. Perhaps more importantly, they may gently steer me away from something that isn't spectacular that night.

I can't quite get my head around the sangria on tap though.

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Last night's "variations" were kind of bizarre.  In the case of the pork sausage (too charred, by the way; dry inside), the beans served with the link were completely dry and covered with mounds of parsley.  I had never had dry beans before so it was a bit of a shock.  The last two times, the beans were pleasantly soupy and flavored with garlic (the second visit's portion was pretty tiny though).  I really didn't know what to make of the beans...I'm still flummoxed.

I had lunch at the new outpost in Crystal City and had the pork sausage. I too was surprised by the dry beans, although mine did not come with a load of parsley. I enjoyed the flavor of the beans, but have never seen this style before.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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Had to shoot down to National today to pick up a last-minute hurricane refugee from Florida, so we decided to stop at the Crystal City Jaleo for lunch. Since we were one of the three occupied tables scattered around the cavernous space, the service was beyond solicitous and everything came out of the kitchen pronto and pretty much perfect. Particular hits were the apple and manchego salad, the chorizo skewers, the smoked sausage omelette, the potatoes with cabrales gravy and a superb mushroom and cheese risotto (though not, obviously, billed as such). There's free parking downstairs in the same building -- so you could do much worse than to take a drive out of your way to eat here on the weekend while you can still, essentially, have the place to yourself. Drinks wise, the sangria was OK but I ultimately preferred the Shiner Bock Hefeweisen. The flan was, as ever, terrific.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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  • 2 months later...

I had a thoroughly frustrating experience at the Bethesda Jaleo this weekend. The food was very good -- tried the new for winter butternut squash soup with parika creme and walnuts that had the right blend of creamy and smoky. However, the service was unbelievably bad. Got off to a good start taking our order quickly and the food appeared about 4 minutes later. We finished and sat and sat and sat. Our plates were cleared and we sat. We'd planned to order dessert but after 25 minutes gave up on that. Then our waiter appeared for the first time since taking the order (food brought by someone else) and dropped off another iced tea. Didn't ask if everything was ok, would we like to order dessert, or anything like that. Just dropped the tea and scurried away. We hoped he was scurrying to get the check. No such luck. After another 10 minutes we gathered our jackets and went to the host to try and pay our bill. I handed him my credit card and he took it into the back. He came back out and said they were working on the bill. Another 10 minutes and he went into the back to see what was up. The waiter reappeared with the check but no credit card or slip to sign. Another 10 minutes before that showed up.

It took 3 times longer to pay the bill then it did to eat the food. The only explanation given was that they had just the one server for that section. There were about 15 tables and 2 busboys who brought out the food as well as cleared.

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  • 1 month later...

Jaleo continues to send interesting offers via e-mail. Today I received a gift certificate good for $25 off a meal of $75 or more, good at the Crystal City location only.

More fine print:

* Can't be used on Valentine's Day or during other special events.

* Offer valid Sunday through Thursday only.

* One per table.

* Offer expires 3/17/05.

Still a very good deal.

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  • 2 months later...

Not much discussion here lately. We had lunch here last week. It was outstanding and frankly as good as any tapas I've had in Spain. We had the pan con tomate and silky serrano, mushrooms in garlic, gazpacho, shrimp with garlic, calamari, the tortilla with potatos (made to order and simply delicious), croquetas, lamb chops, squid in its own ink with rice, fried potatos with a cabrales sauce that reminded me of Quebec's poutine, cod fritters, tripe and possibly one or two things I can't remember. I drank a nice Lustau fino sherry that worked well with everything. The restaurant truly represents a great value for the quality of the food.

The icing on the cake, though was when I recognized Chef Andres and got to meet him. I look forward to visiting more of his restaurants in the future.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 3 months later...

I dined at the Crystal City Jaleo location on Tuesday night. We started with the Marinated fried shark, which was probably the best dish of the night. The shark was crisp on the outside, but tender and juicy once you bit into it. Jaleo displayed another great touch with fried foods with the Traditional fritters of dates and bacon. This was also a favorite, as the flavors all balanced each other very well. I could have eaten a ton of them. We also had the Scallops in Romesco sauce. The scallops tasted fresh and slightly sweet, and were cooked perfectly. The Grilled quail with honey alioli and rosemary sauce was tasty enough, but it is very tough to split a tiny quail between three people. The Grilled beef sirloin with ‘piquillo’ pepper confit would make any carnivore very happy. We also had the Skewer of grilled chorizo on garlic-mashed potatoes, which look like little cocktail weiners but taste nothing like them. The only dish that was a "miss" was the Spanish Mackeral. The sauce was nice and spicy, but the fish was very oily.

Service was fine except when it came to our after-dinner drinks. A tip for wait staff: If I order a red wine, and you bring me a white wine, don’t insist that you brought me the correct wine :angry:. Our waiter disappeared for 10 minutes and finally came back with the correct wine. Despite this “glitch”, the meal was very enjoyable and I would definitely return.

"My cat's breath smells like cat food."

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Wow, you guys ressuracted a post fo mine from before I lived in the DC area. :)

As far as capital Q, I was there the other day and it was better than that visit of mine in 2002. Yes, I had the brisket, but over rice.

As far as Jaleo, great place, but It is hard to resist La Tasca's Friday night happy hour (free paella at the bar and bar tables and $13 sangria pitchers.) I may try to get back to Jaleo soon.

Also been going to Ella's for free pizza happy hours, with $3 beers and $3 bad sangrias. :)

-Jason

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As far as Jaleo, great place, but It is hard to resist La Tasca's Friday night happy hour (free paella at the bar and bar tables and $13 sangria pitchers.) 

Hmmmm. After two visits in the way past, I've never seemed to have a problem resisting La Tasca. :hmmm:

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Then you are getting the wrong stuff there. The sangrias are good, and there is a good variety of them. The desserts are actually very good. It is the tapas that are mediocre, so taht shouldn't be your main focus there.

-Jason

As far as Jaleo, great place, but It is hard to resist La Tasca's Friday night happy hour (free paella at the bar and bar tables and $13 sangria pitchers.) 

Hmmmm. After two visits in the way past, I've never seemed to have a problem resisting La Tasca. :hmmm:

-Jason

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Then you are getting the wrong stuff there. The sangrias are good, and there is a good variety of them. The desserts are actually very good. It is the tapas that are mediocre, so taht shouldn't be your main focus there.

-Jason

As far as Jaleo, great place, but It is hard to resist La Tasca's Friday night happy hour (free paella at the bar and bar tables and $13 sangria pitchers.) 

Hmmmm. After two visits in the way past, I've never seemed to have a problem resisting La Tasca. :hmmm:

I tried the Sangrias at the Young, Hot and Cooking event about a month ago, and found them to be a very sad complement to the amazing food at the event.

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  • 3 months later...

My wife and I came from NY to DC over the weekend for a conference. After reading about Mini-Bar on eGullet, I tried to get a last minute reservation on Friday night, but we were unable to so we decided to go to Jaleo instead. It wasn't until we got there that we realized that Jose Andres was also responsible for Zaytinya, which we went to after a previous conference shortly after it opened and absolutely loved. This obviously was a good starting point for the meal.

I am usually not a huge fan of having to fight for a seat at the bar, but when I saw they had an '02 Pesquera by-the-glass I felt a little more patient and grateful. We had a drink and our table was available within about 30 minutes (we got there around 6:45). Zaleo was crowded and somewhat loud, but my wife and I were able to have a conversaion without yelling at each other.

We initially planned on around 5 or 6 items for the two of us. After looking at the menu, though, it was tempting to order 15 or 20, as the menu contained a number of our favorite classic tapas as well as dishes we hadn't encountered before, most of which we suspected, after dining at Zaytinya, would be excellent.

Anywhere, we settled on 8 (and another glass of Pesquera). They were, in no particular order...

Buñuelos de bacalao

Cod fritters with honey alioli

Bacalao is one of my absolute favorite things. I have made numerous cod cake/fritter recipes and order them in restaurants whenever I have a chance. This was one of the classics I had to get. However, there were two things of particular interest here. First, the fritter was more of the creamy variety with well-shredded cod, which I prefer over the variety bound with potatoes (ironic, since I am originally from New England, where cod and potatoes are as natural a pair as lobster and butter). Second was the honey alioli. To be honest, I prefer my alioli without honey because I like the fish and garlic flavor to be dominant, but it was still very good and that is only my personal preference.

Cazón en adobo al estilo de Cádiz

Marinated fried shark like people do in Cádiz

I have had this dish several times in Spain, at least once near Cadiz, and this version was very similar to those. That being said, as often as I have ordered it, I have never really fallen in love with it. I do like it, though, and would say this was an excellent version.

Codorniz con allioli de miel y salsa romero

Grilled quail with honey alioli and rosemary sauce

A truly do love quail and found this to be an excellent dish, a single, semi-boneless quail in two sauces, one sweet and one savory, the honey and garlic and rosemary all playing off each other and the richness of the quail. It was also an easy dish to share, splitting the quail lengthwise.

Arroz y setas con queso Murcia

Traditional rice with mushrooms and Murcia cheese

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this, but what I got was like a mushroom risotto with a slice of Murcia cheese over the top that was warmed perfectly. I am not sure, but I assume the rice was one of the Calasparra varieties, since it is in Murcia.

Espinacas a la Catalana

Spinach sautéed with pine nuts, raisins & apples

Since I wind up cooking spinach a lot, I was very pleased to have this. The pine nuts are toasted, then sauteed with raisins and apples and tossed with the spinach. The raisins, in particular, retain a lot of heat and it seems to keep the spinach warm for a very long time and feels like a more substantial side dish than most spinach preparations, rich without being heavy. I thought this might be of moorish influence, but am not sure (maybe I related all use of fruit and nuts in spanish cooking to the Moors). In any case, I will be stealing this recipe for my own use at home.

Conejo con frutos secos

Rabbit in a dried fruit sauce

This was probably the best dish we had all night. It was the first item we picked, largely because we remembered a rabbit dish with lentils from Zaytinya that we both loved. This dish is very different from that one, but it was absolutely excellent. The rabbit was perfectly cooked and a stock-based fruit sauce contained dried figs and apricots, which together with the rabbit was a very rich pairing.

Trigueros con Romesco

Grilled asparagus with Catalan ‘Romesco’

Until I went back to look at the menu, I did not recall this being a romesco, but rather a smokey tomato sauce. It was excellent nonetheless, with pencil-thin green asparagus, and served only slightly warm. This is another dish I will likely try to replicate (good side dishes can be so hard to find).

Fava Beans with Clams

I couldn't find this one on the online menu so I can't provide the spanish translation. Maybe it was a special. In any case, this was probably my least favorite dish. I am not sure if they had run out, but the beans were definitely not favas. They were more like a butter bean (like larger versions of the beans in Campbell's bean w/bacon soup). Perhaps this was part of the problem, but the combination of clams with beans was a little too heavy and the clam flavor was too concentrated for my liking as the beans didn't seem to offer much other than substance. I think the flavor of fresh favas would have provided a better counterpoint. I am hopeful that they were just out of favas and would ask before ordering this again.

In any case, the night we were there was the first day they had Andres's Tapas book available and my wife and I were suitably impressed enough to buy a copy (the waiter told us he believed we had bought the first copy). In addition to the dishes we ate, there are numerous other dishes that we wanted to try that are in the cookbook.

I would highly recommend Jaleo to anyone who hasn't been there. Having enjoyed it and Zaytinya, we will likely try to get to Cafe Atlantico and Mini-Bar on our next trip.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I'm gettign ahead of myself since I'll try the DC location first but...is the Bethesda location just as good?

It may be due to very different nature of experiences, but at a large (major) birthday party in the evening, I found the food Bethesda location superior to the fewer dishes eaten with just a couple of people in D.C. at lunchtime on weekends.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 2 months later...

Perhaps I'm not the epicure that some of you are, but...

Jaleo is a great god damn restaurant.

I'm talking about the DC location. I haven't been to any of the others.

Every time I go there (every few months, it's always my vote for theatre-night, as it is right next door to the Shakespeare theatre) I always have a great experience. It's usually crowded and noisy and fun. The service is efficient and unobtrusive, the food is delicious and reasonably priced. With a table of four or six people that love to share everything and taste everything, you get to taste a lot.

Sure, plenty of the food is simple fare, but it's good. I don't care that the garlic shrimp are easy to make (I make them myself at home sometimes.) I just care that they're delicious and come with plenty of extra garlic butter for dipping that delicious bread in.

I don't care that the grilled chorizo and garlic mashed potatoes is easy for a busy chef and transient staff to deliver consistently. I just like to see that my friends and family are delighted and happy when they taste it.

The duck confit is also standard, but delicious! The salt-cod salad is light and fluffy and ethereal. The bread with tomato and anchovy is balanced perfectly and unfussy. Fried calamari with aioli, again, not hard to do, but delicious when executed well, which they do. Delicious little plates of cheeses and sausages, the always-perfectly-grilled asparagus, the delicate ribbons of ham and melon (a presentation I have stolen for when I do proscutto with melon at home).

I really haven't tried the full paella experience there because there is always so much to try on the tapas menu but I've tasted it and it is pretty good in my opinion. We usually get about three rounds of tapas. First round: try new things. Second round, a few more new things, a few old favorites, third round: a last dish or two of whatever we found to be perfectly delightful on that particular day. Sorry steve, I tend to have the last bit of sauce or olive oil or butter sopped up with a scrap of bread for dessert!

I've eaten at the Inn at Little Washington, and it's good, but I never have as round, fun, tasty of an experience there as I do at Jaleo. And sure, maybe Jose doesn't have time to figure out that you can get away with making lentils sweet and weird and orangey if you put a perfectly grilled venison chop on top (Cafe Mono) but are you so jaded that you really need that?

Just my $0.02 (plus tip!)

Edited by pork (log)
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Well said.

I was just talking that place up to my co-workers as well - every time, it makes me happy to eat there. Except for the tea, which is not their fault, but it is undrinkably bad.

Perhaps I'm not the epicure that some of you are, but...

Jaleo is a great god damn restaurant.

I'm talking about the DC location.  I haven't been to any of the others. 

Every time I go there (every few months, it's always my vote for theatre-night, as it is right next door to the Shakespeare theatre) I always have a great experience.  It's usually crowded and noisy and fun.  The service is efficient and unobtrusive, the food is delicious and reasonably priced.  With a table of four or six people that love to share everything and taste everything, you get to taste a lot.

Sure, plenty of the food is simple fare, but it's good.  I don't care that the garlic shrimp are easy to make (I make them myself at home sometimes.)  I just care that they're delicious and come with plenty of extra garlic butter for dipping that delicious bread in.

I don't care that the grilled chorizo and garlic mashed potatoes is easy for a busy chef and transient staff to deliver consistently.  I just like to see that my friends and family are delighted and happy when they taste it.

The duck confit is also standard, but delicious!  The salt-cod salad is light and fluffy and ethereal.  The bread with tomato and anchovy is balanced perfectly and unfussy.  Fried calamari with aioli, again, not hard to do, but delicious when executed well, which they do.  Delicious little plates of cheeses and sausages, the always-perfectly-grilled asparagus, the delicate ribbons of ham and melon (a presentation I have stolen for when I do proscutto with melon at home). 

I really haven't tried the full paella experience there because there is always so much to try on the tapas menu  but I've tasted it and it is pretty good in my opinion.  We usually get about three rounds of tapas.  First round: try new things.  Second round, a few more new things, a few old favorites, third round: a last dish or two of whatever we found to be perfectly delightful on that particular day.  Sorry steve, I tend to have the last bit of sauce or olive oil or butter sopped up with a scrap of bread for dessert!

I've eaten at the Inn at Little Washington, and it's good, but I never have as round, fun, tasty of an experience there as I do at Jaleo.  And sure, maybe Jose doesn't have time to figure out that you can get away with making lentils sweet and weird and orangey if you put a perfectly grilled venison chop on top (Cafe Mono) but are you so jaded that  you really need that?

Just my $0.02 (plus tip!)

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  • 2 months later...

I think I'll be able to have lunch at Jaleo in a few days. I'll be alone and I've never eaten tapas before. Can somebody give me a primer/etiquette advice? Is it ok to order one dish at a time? Can I bring my book and stay awhile? Is a reservation important? What's the single best high-protein dish I MUST order?

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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I think I'll be able to have lunch at Jaleo in a few days.  I'll be alone and I've never eaten tapas before.  Can somebody give me a primer/etiquette advice?  Is it ok to order one dish at a time?  Can I bring my book and stay awhile?  Is a reservation important?  What's the single best high-protein dish I MUST order?

Lori,

I dined solo there one evening in August.

I told my waiter what I wanted to spend, and he brought me a beautiful assortment of dishes, one at a time, that made a phenomenal dinner. I'm now hooked on patatas bravas, and look forward to making some myself once we remodel our kitchen and get a hood that permits frying. And I'm not a coffee drinker, but their coffee set off the flan for dessert beautifully.

However, it was a Friday evening and the restaurant was crowded, so I didn't read the book I'd brought, and I didn't linger. I don't know what it would be like at lunch.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Thanks very much, Melissa. That sounds like a great method for getting a nice meal for the tapas novice. Do you mind me asking how much you wanted to spend?

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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  • 3 months later...

We eat dinner at Jaleo with some frequency since my husband's office is nearby. Last night was one of those nights. There are some new tapas on both the temporary menu and the specials menu that are totally amazing. I thought egulleters would like to know.

Special tapas include:

o beet gazpacho with goat cheese

o black pork charcuterie platter

o toasts of squash blossom, Idiazabal cheese and ham

Temporary tapas include:

o sweetbreads with Pisto Machengo

Don't order beet gazpacho expecting the typical tomato soup with a garnish of beets. This soup is a thick puree of beets accented with a couple of firm-textured diced beets and some crumbles of goat cheese. The natural sweetness of beet gets a bit of a jolt with some vinegar and the goat cheese serves as a creamy counterpoint to everything. Just fantastic! The portion is large enough for two people to share happily.

Apologies for using the French word "charcuterie" for what is a Spanish dish. I could have written salumi, but that wouldn't be any more Spanish. My menu French and Italian are better than my menu Spanish.

This dish includes three thin slices each of dry cured ham, chorizo, and salami. The meat is from black pork rather than from the more common white pork. There are two options: black pork raised on its regular diet (whatever that may be) and black pork raised on a diet including 60 days of acorns. The latter option is a bit more expensive, but we chose it. The taste was exquisite. Frankly, it was better than Mario Battali's salumi platter at Babbo restaurant in NY where we ate recently. Do not order this dish if you're going for cost-effective tapas choices. The diameter of the three types of charcuterie is no bigger than two inches and the meats are sliced appropriately thin. However, the taste was really special so we're happy we ordered it.

The menu lists "toasts of sqush blossom with Idiazabal cheese." We didn't quite know what that would mean, but I'm a fool for squash blossoms so we tend to order them whenever they are offered. What arrived was a totally exquisite version of grilled cheese: a thin slice of intensely-flavored ham, a layer of squash blossoms, and cheese. The sandwich was cut into four small slices. I don't know if I can ever eat an ordinary version of grilled cheese again!

My husband and I aren't certain that the veal sweetbreads are listed on the menu as Sweetbreads Pisto Machengo, but we are confident that they are among the temporary offerings and that they are the only sweetbread option.

I like sweetbreads. When I see sweetbreads on the menu as an appetizer, they are among my final choices. However, they haven't won out in a long time. Some other appetizer is calling my name more. My husband will tolerate sweetbreads. Last night, he was willing to order them in a shared tapas-sized portion. We're glad we did; what a treat! Imagine wonderful ratatouille with a meaty, savory sauce and some bite-sized cubes. My husband described the dish this way: "Savory. The sweetbreads are really an accent and don't dominate the taste. Even someone who really doesn't like sweetbreads would like this dish."

We ordered a couple more tapas selections, but no one needs for me to write about the standards like patatas bravas.

The only negative in an otherwise wonderful meal is that we exerimented by ordering the white sangria instead of the usual red. We didn't care for the white as much as the red.

Indy 67

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