2013 Fall Dining Guide By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013
"Look! A book signed by Escoffier!" says the big kid in chef's whites, otherwise known as Jose Andres, the vision behind the best tapas restaurant I know and a passionate student of gastronomy. Andres just happens to be in the buzzy dining room in Penn Quarter and spots me the night I drop in for garlicky shrimp and an omelet dotted with spicy pork sausage, and he just happens to be carrying a cookbook fragrant with old age. When he spies a fried calamari sandwich on my table, he flashes a smile and says it's what fueled him in the Spanish military; later in the evening, he brings over his latest find. "You must try this cheese!" he purrs, patting a small round of near-melting sheep's milk from the esteemed Finca Pascualete that, sure enough, rocks my world, too.
I can't guarantee the entrepreneur will be animating Jaleo when you're there. But I can promise the food and drink -- the bite-size cones of salmon roe and the artful gin and tonics -- will be just as divine. Even without the big cheese, Jaleo is a blast to behold.
2012 Fall Dining Guide
2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
Quick, name the most decadent dish at the best tapas restaurant in the country. Is it silken roasted peppers streaked with translucent ribbons of fat from Spain's famous acorn-eating pigs? A raft of toasted bread topped with both butter and sea urchin? Then again, Jaleo's mini-burgers plumped with juicy ground Iberico pork are hedonistic, too. The food at this Jose Andres' creation -- hake in a haze of garlic, sherry-splashed mussels, a standout paella -- has always been terrific; a makeover in January put the scenery on par with the cooking. Si, you can graze at the glass-topped foosball tables. Colorful fabric “tiles" in the bar double as noise mufflers. “You've got to see the bathroom!" a man sitting next to me says to his companion. I follow the cheerleader's lead, and sure enough, photographs of dozens of beaming faces look up at me from the floor of the restroom. At Jaleo, it turns out, food is just part of the fun.
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