Jaleo - how I've missed you so. How could I have been dining at your sister restaurants so often while completely forgetting about you? I recently realized it has been years since I had been to Jaleo, one of Jose Andres' many restaurants. Jaleo now has three locations in the DC metro area as well as a new one in Las Vegas.
As soon as we entered, I knew something was different. As my friend and I were talking, I couldn't help but be distracted by the decor. When they brought us our waters, I had to ask, "was the entire decor changed?" They confirmed that it had back in March of 2012. Well, I'm a bit late to the party. I mean, it is completely different. From the funky, wood drapery to the multicolored plush chairs, I didn't even recognize the place. That's not to mention the very odd and somewhat creepy paintings of people falling through the sky and others of just people's legs and feet consistent with their new website. Even the lighting was new with what appeared to be hand painted glass -- it was very amusing.
Several of the items on the menu were vegan from the Escalivada Catalana, a roasted red pepper, eggplant and sweet onion salad with sherry dressing to the Espinacas A La Catalana, sauteed spinach, pine nuts, raisins, and apples. I already knew I liked the spinach dish so I wanted to try something different.
All of the dishes are Spanish tapas so they recommend you order 2-3 per person. I started with the Coliflor Salteada Con Aceitunas Y Datiles, which was sauteed cauliflower with dates and olives. I loved that this dish was such an odd combination. The cauliflower was coated with some type of paprika and sauteed so that it was just right. It was in a sweet date sauce with dates and olives. It was very good.
But, even better was my other dish -- the Papas Arrugas. These soft, salty baby potatoes are served with two sauces. The mojo verde is a parsley and cilantro based sauce bursting with herb flavor while the mojo rojo is made of roasted red peppers and pimentos. Other than the mojo verde being a bit too oily, they couldn't have been better.
After we realized we had been there for an hour and a half on a Friday at lunch, we quickly paid the bill and headed back. The food was great, the service was pretty good, and the prices were on point. Most of all, as odd as it was, I liked the new atmosphere. My only recommendation is that they mark the vegan items on the menu. But, regardless, I'll be back for happy hour sometime soon.
480 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004