June 29th brought the derecho and strong winds, power outages in the suburbs, and downed trees all over. MamaE was without power in Cville, so she decided to stay the weekend in DC. We had an amazing Saturday lunch at the newly renovated Jaleo in Chinatown.
The last time I ate at Jaleo was before the renovations, and the new space seems to have brought a more lively atmosphere to the place. The decoration is playful and very Euro-feeling, textured jute carpets line the walls, patterns zig zagging across every surface, even the bathroom floors have a disorienting image of a crowd of people reaching up towards you (truly bizarre, you gotta check it out). The overall feel was more enthusiastic than the old Jaleo.
Jaleo has interactive drink ordering iPads – you order a drink on the tablet, and then show the tablet to your server. I’m not sure of the benefit over simply having a printed menu and communicating with your server, but I love a good gimmick.
Watermelon gazpacho that was a special for the day and it was divine, smooth, mild and creamy but still full flavored. We agreed that we could drink the stuff all day long.
We also had the ‘famous’ shrimp in garlic sauce, Iberico ham on tomatoey bread, Gin & Tonic oysters (very nice, but I’m not a huge fan of the oyster/liquor combo in general), the unfailing patatas bravas, and finally we each had a dessert. My mother had the flan, which was serviceable, and I had the olive oil ice cream with grapefruit. This was the moment where I really fell in love with Jaleo and fully appreciated Jose Andres’ inventive cooking style. The grapefruit granitas cut through the creamy olive oil ice cream and the bitterness balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the dish. It was an unexpected juxtaposition of textures and tastes.