After his success with Proof, Mark Kuller decided to try his hand at opening a contemporary restaurant that focused on Spanish cuisine and wine. He called it "Estadio," which means "stadium" in Spanish and opened it in the Logan Circle area in June of 2010. Since then, the popularity of this restaurant has soared as word of its fine cuisine and fine wine spread throughout the city.
My friend and I decided to go to Estadio on a Saturday night around 7 p.m. This usually means a considerable wait as Estadio does not take reservations for parties of less than 6 people after 6 p.m. on any night. When we walked in, we were told there would be a 30 - 60 minute wait. I expected as much. We headed to the bar and just as we were about to order drinks, they said they had seating for us. Wow - in 5 minutes! We were seated at the bar that allows patrons to watch the chefs in action in their kitchen -- a very cool perspective!
We ordered 2 glasses of wine -- Chris ordered a Tempranillo while I ordered a sparkling wine. I had had that particular Tempranillo before and while I loved it, I wanted to try something different. The sparkling wine was much drier than I was expecting so I asked the waitress if I could order something else and if we could speak to the sommelier. The sommelier approached us quickly to discuss the wine list. He was wearing a t-shirt with a suit jacket and green and yellow tennis shoes -- he was much more casual than I was expecting, but I was fine with that. He advised us on the wines and we ended up ordering a red wine from Rioja -- Bodegas El Indiano El Brozal Rioja Blanco (2009). This is a great spicy wine that hits you with toasty, warm flavors.
I inquired as to the vegan options and they gave me a different menu that had all of the vegan items in one place. Now, that was a wonderful surprise. I mean, I knew they had vegan options, but for them to take the time to create a vegan menu is going one step above what I would expect. The funny part was that they kept the headings the same as on their regular menu so this menu had an "eggs and fried" section, though, of course, there are no eggs. They also told me that they had discovered that the last item on this menu is not vegan. Other than that, they get a plus one for this one.
We started off with four tapas. The first one to arrive was the blistered padron peppers. These were just peppers that had been fried in a lot of oil topped with shaved sea salt. These hot peppers were delicious, but definitely didn't stand alone as a dish so I was glad there were other tapas coming.
The next plate to arrive was the grilled country bread with tomatoes, olive oil, and sea salt. This was tasty, but a bit soggy. I would have liked the bread to have been grilled a little more, but, regardless, I still enjoyed this dish.
Next, we received the roasted wild mushrooms with parsley and garlic, which were absolutely delicious. The cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms were sauteed to perfection and lightly seasoned. I loved this dish!
Lastly, we received the sauteed lacinato kale. The kale was blanched and cooked with sherry, garlic, and chili flakes. It was a great texture that went well with the spicy chili flakes.
We had some wine left so we ordered some spicy marcona almonds as well. These were amazing. If you love marcona almonds, you'll really love these.
All in all, this casual restaurant has delectable tapas at reasonable prices ($5 to $8 each). The wine list is great and the service is great. If only they took reservations, they'd be perfect.
1520 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005