If there’s one trend I’d like to eat more of, it’s smaller restaurant portions — and not just because I happen to be spending the month of January on Weight Watchers. Going forward, even after I’ve put my scale away, I want to be able to eat exactly what I want, only in serving sizes suited to someone who works at a desk rather than in a field.
Joselito Casa de Comidas has made my life easy of late. The 70-seat restaurant on Capitol Hill, a breezy spinoff of the Spanish restaurant SER in Ballston, offers not just traditional tapas and family-style platters but also dishes that fall in “medium” territory. Spaniards call them “medias raciones.” Think sensibly sized entrees.
Anyone finding himself at a marble table in the black-and-white Joselito, tagged for the father of owner Javier Candon, should be sure to ask for crisp-fried anchovies accompanied by yuzu mayonnaise, a bowl of tender clams showered in garlic, and a plate of blushing bavette (steak) sparked with chimichurri. Head chef David Sierra, 36, comes to Joselito from SER and, before that, Fiola Mare in Georgetown and Taberna del Alabardero downtown. He’s got chops, in other words. And a way with pork, in particular. Both the well-seasoned tenderloin and shoulder make nice memories, although they would be even better if the former’s hand-cut fries were less greasy and the latter’s mashed potatoes were warmer.
Here’s a chef who puts some effort into his salads, be they velvety roasted red peppers and sharp onions tossed with tuna, or a garden of seasonal vegetables scattered with tangy goat cheese and moistened at the table with an asparagus puree.
A few design details need work. The tables are too small to accommodate much food at any one time and are spaced as though they were anchovies in a can. One night, every quarter-hour was punctuated with the sound of glasses or plates crashing on the tiled floor, intrusions that probably had a lot to do with the tight quarters. That blast of arctic air that chills the front dining room every time the door opens? The music that suggests you’re in a beer garden in Munich rather than a restaurant in Madrid? Adjust them both, please. I also find it odd to see a walk-in cooler with a big window looking onto the dining room, and vice versa. (Nice, um, Welch’s juice you’ve got there, Joselito!)
On the other hand, the room is warmed up with photographs of Candon’s family (his father, who died last year at 90, had eight children) and paintings depicting the owner’s native province of Huelva, west of Seville, Spain.
A server in a black vest and white apron describes the dessert called torrijas — bread soaked in milk and sherry, dipped in an egg batter, fried and soaked again in honey and sherry — as Spanish French toast, and he’s on target. The addition of a scoop of true-tasting vanilla ice cream makes it especially decadent. The only problem I see with the sweet treat is the amount.
The confection is regular, and I want it super-sized.
660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202-930-6955. joselitodc.com. Media raciones, or entrees, $15 to $31.