So it turns out that in the capital of the world’s largest economy, on Sundays and Mondays there is a shortage of good restaurants that are open. So after extensive research (that including a lot of crossing ideas out as I checked their opening hours) we ended up booking Jaleo. It is a tapas/ Spanish restaurant from chef Jose Andres, there are another 2 branches in the wider DC area as well as one in Las Vegas. The chef also runs Minibar in DC which is a very well-known modular restaurant with counter seating. This place was packed on this Sunday evening, perhaps because it was one of the few places in the area that was open or perhaps because it is always heaving.
The restaurant is a very well lit, modern place that has a lively atmosphere. The staff seemed to be keen to help and make recommendations. We started with 2 Aceitunas Ferrán Adrià ‘liquid olives, obviously inspired by Jose Andres’ days cooking at El Bulli. These were balls, created using the spherification process, served on a spoon that exploded in the mouth with an olive taste ($1 each).
Pan De Cristal Con Tomate- toasted slices of uniquely crispy and ethereal bread brushed with fresh tomato ($8) was a good version that reminded of Barcelona. We ordered some Jamón Ibérico De Bellota Fermín ($22) but they had run out of the acorn-fed version and thus we ended up with ordinary Jamón Ibérico Fermín ($14). This was okay but just reminded me of just how much better the De Bellota is.
Trigueros Con Romesco- grilled asparagus with romesco sauce ($9) was very well cooked and the sauce worked well with it. Espinacas A La Catalana- sautéed spinach, pine nuts, raisins and apples ($7) was recommended by our waiter and was a great combinations of flavours and textures. The sweetness of the raisins and apples helped balanced the iron earthiness of the spinach.
Codorniz Con Salsa De Romero Y Alioli De Miel- grilled quail with rosemary sauce and honey alioli ($12) was a good dish. The quail was grilled well and the sweet rosemary sauce was nicely balanced, still containing plenty of flavour from the rosemary. Gambas Al Ajillo- shrimp sautéed with garlic ($10) were very good, the prawns were fresh and juicy. The sauce here was not the more garlicky version that I was expecting it was very much a chili and garlic sauce that tasted similar to some peri peri sauces. It was still a great accompaniment though. Merluza A La Donostiarra- traditional Basque-style hake served with garlic and pimento ($11) was also good, the fish was decently cooked and the sauce was nice but one could have perhaps done with more of it.
This was very good tapas but far from the best that I have had in Spain (or even London). I would still very much recommend it though as a fun, not too expensive, place to go in DC; especially on a Sunday!