Thursday, January 12, 2012

Restaurant Review: Jaleo

I've always loved Restaurant Week.  It's a great opportunity to see some of the restaurants that are top notch in your city for a reduced price.  And it's interesting.  Some places put together some really inventive and amazing menus that highlight their food, while others do mediocre menus that wouldn't bring me back.  Ever.  Whereas restaurants that I've liked while trying them during RW, I've tried again.

For lunch, some ladies and I decided to try Jaleo.  José Andrés is an amazing restauranteur, as well as a chef, and while I have been to his other places in DC (Zaytinya and Oyamel, both of which I would absolutely recommend), I had never been to Jaleo.

Prior to the visit, I could see the menu here. It looked varied and good, so I was excited about trying the menu.

The group I went with to Jaleo decided to sort of split everything, so I we tried several dishes.  I'll review some of them, but I should say that our overall experience was awesome.  And I would recommend going to Jaleo for or not for RW.

We started out with some bread and an olive oil poured over rosemary and garlic and something a bit spicy. The olive oil was great, although the bread was good, but not as crusty perhaps as I would have liked.


Appetizers

I ordered the Ensalada de remolacha con cítricos, which was a salad of red beets, citrus, Valdeón cheese and
pistachios with Sherry dressing.  It was pretty large, and really good.

I have a real thing for beets, and the Valdeón (which I would equate to a blue cheese) was a great complement.  I plan on, at some point, figuring out how to use blue cheese and roasted beets more.

One of my friends ordered the Ensalada Rusa, a salad of potatoes, imported conserved tuna and mayonnaise.  It was sort of like an amazing twist on potato salad.  And it was topped with these awesome marinated red peppers.

Another friend ordered the Sopa de setas con queso Idiazábal y huevo, a mushroom soup with Idiazábal cheese and a slow cooked egg.  I have to say that out of all the appetizers, this was the best.

The egg was perfectly poached, and the broth was well balanced.  There seemed to be a mix of mushrooms, maybe button, porcini...something else.  But amazing overall.  I kinda had a bit of envy.

Second Course

For the second course, I chose the Patatas bravas, a potato dish with spicy tomato sauce and alioli.

The alioli actually tasted like a garlicky rouille, which was an awesome welcome surprise.  (And as a sidenote, a bit of a vindication for me.  See, I've made one similar to this dish and it tasted exactly like how I make it.  WIN!)  My only criticism of this dish was that there was SO MUCH FOOD!  It made for wonderful leftovers though.  I had to cut myself off, or I wouldn't have had room for the other courses!

Our table also ordered the Gambas al ajillo, which was a shrimp dish in a garlic sauce.

They were wonderfully marinated shrimp, and the garlic sauce wasn't overpowering.  

Winner of this course was hard to determine.  The dishes were different, and honesty I'd eat either again.

Third Course

For my third course I ordered the Dátiles con tocino ‘como hace todo el mundo’, which was a deep fried bacon wrapped date dish.  They were amazing.  

Although the flavor stood on its own, I only wondered whether there may have been missing something like a sauce.  But they were great little one (or really, two) bites. 

One of the other dishes was Lomo de cerdo con salsa de cabrales, a pork loin with roasted onion and  cabrales sauce.

The sauce was like an interesting gravy...almost like the gravy you would find with poutin (but a good one!). Two of the people at our table ordered and it really enjoyed it.  I think the winner of this round goes to the pork loin.  It just made a more complete dish.

Dessert Course

I have a real thing for chocolate.  I always have.  In fact, I can remember the first time I had chocolate mousse.  It was when I was probably about 12 and it was at the restaurant that was in one of the hotels that my dad worked for, and I can still remember it.  So, the decision was obvious for me.  I ordered the Espuma de chocolate negro con bizcocho de cacao y helado de avellana, a dark chocolate mousse with a cocoa sponge cake and hazelnut ice cream.


It was a great dish.  Not overpowering.  The mousse was light and a the sponge cake didn't overwhelm.  The candied hazelnuts were also fantastic.

Others at our table ordered the flan.  I am not the hugest fan of flan, but it was great.

I think winner of this course, but only because of my personal bias to chocolate, is the mousse.

Overall I have to say that Jaleo was a wonderful experience, and I will definitely be back.  Thanks to the hardworking staff!

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