Tag Archives: tapas

Lebanese Taverna: A Local Chain Done Right

23 Jun

We can’t believe we haven’t written about Lebanese Taverna yet given the number of times we frequent this Middle Eastern mini-chain. This past weekend my parents were in town, so we decided to treat them to dinner for Father’s Day at the Lebanese Taverna in Bethesda.

We have dined at the Woodley Park location several times in recent months, and when we arrived for our reservation last weekend, we almost forgot how beautiful the space is inside the newest addition to the LT family. The glass bubble chandeliers alone are stunning. Although it might be hard to tell that this location is related to the others, the expansive menu was the same and that’s mainly what we were there for.

Vegetarian Mezze Platter

We sat down and were greeted with their signature pillow-type bread and olive oil dipping sauce. We decided to split a half pitcher of white sangria, and right away we wish we went with the larger pitcher. Even my mom loved it, and she rarely drinks alcohol!

I knew we had to order one of the mezze platters to start out with, so we went with the vegetarian option. I have ordered this before as an entree, and for four people it is a great way to try lots of different mezze on the menu. I won’t name everything it came with, but trust me, if you haven’t ordered one of these yet, you definitely should.

Araydis Arak

Brett and I decided to split the mixed Mashawi dish, since I wasn’t too hungry and it was a nice way to try the chicken, lamb, and kafta kabobs. We also split the Araydis Arak (sautéed shrimp, garlic, onion, and arak) and the M’saka (oven roasted eggplant with chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and garlic).

Mixed Kabobs

The only complaint we had was that the entrees immediately came out as soon as we finished our appetizers. In fact, we still had some food left on the table as there really was no lapse between courses, so I was already full while Brett (unsurprisingly) had the lion’s share of our entree. But what I did have was excellent as all of the flavors found on the varieties of meat blended well together.

My Mom had one of the specials, the crispy fried whole trout. She said it was good but didn’t care for the cabbage that it came with. My dad, however, was in love with his lamb loin (Sharhat Ghanam) and couldn’t get enough of it.

Crispy fried whole trout

Lebanese Taverna is one of those places that is so reliable that we almost forget about it at times. It’s a great place to bring a group to because there really is something for everyone.

Lebanese Taverna on Urbanspoon

Jaleo Comes Through for Bethesda Restaurant Week

20 Apr

I almost made it through another Bethesda Restaurant Week without taking advantage of any deals, but when my friends said they were going to Jaleo for lunch, I immediately made an exception.

Jaleo has one of the better deals for Bethesda Row Restaurant Week – for $15 you can choose three items from three sections of tapas. I added up the cost of what mine would have been a la carte and it easily came to around $30.

Seared scallops

As soon as we were seated, we were served a basket of bread with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. After sifting through the menu, it seemed that everyone wanted to order three items from the middle “classic” category, instead of one from each section.

In the end, I settled on gazpacho estilo Algeciras, their very famous gambas al ajillo, and seared scallops. We decided to share most of our plates, so I also got to have some bacon-wrapped dates, apple Manchego salad, calamari, and pollo al ajillo con salsa verde.

Gazpacho estilo Algeciras

I won’t go into too much detail about the food itself since we previously reported on many of these items, but I can’t say enough about the quality and consistency of the food at Jaleo. Our waitress was a little slow and we noticed tables around us were served before ours, but I guess that is the nature of tapas.

In an age with so much restaurant turnover, especially in Bethesda, it’s amazing that Jaleo has been around for over 10 years and remains a flagship destination in the area. Every time I dine there, I feel that we should come more often and take advantage of the fact that we are so close to such a well-regarded dining establishment in the DC area.

Pollo al ajillo con salsa verdeGambas al ajilloCalamares a la Romana

Although as much as we try to branch out with the menu items, it is hard to move away from such classic dishes that made Jaleo famous to begin with. You have to admit, the patatas bravas, gambas, and bacon-wrapped dates are really, really addictive.

Jaleo on Urbanspoon

Jaleo Celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary

2 Mar

It was a festive scene last night at the Bethesda location of Jaleo, where Chef Jose Andres and company celebrated the tenth anniversary of their beloved Spanish restaurant.

Complimentary wineJaleo 10th Anniversary

With complimentary tapas, sangria, and wine, Jaleo passed around several of its signature items such as gazpacho and chicken fritters. They even had a paella station setup which proved to be a hit amongst the crowd.

GazpachoEndives with goat cheese, oranges and almondsSangria

While we briefly saw Mr. Andres very early into the night, it sounded like he was needed in the kitchen to help out with the hundreds in attendance. It turned out to be a very fun evening and we were very glad to be a part of the festivities.

CakeNewspaper clipping of 10th AnniversaryChicken fritter and spicy chorizo wrapped in crispy potato

Pubbelly: The South Beach Asian Gastropub

26 Jan

While on vacation last week, we had the opportunity to meet up with our friend Rinat and go out to dinner while we were in South Beach.

Now when one thinks of Southern Florida, gastropubs are probably not the first thing that crosses your mind, let alone ones with Asian influences.

Yet Pubbelly successfully fills this void with perhaps some of the most unique, delicious cuisine in the entire city.

Short rib tartar with quail egg

Take for instance the McBelly: succulent, barbecued porkbelly sliders served with pickles and onions atop a fluffy potato bun. It was simply fantastic.

Given the name of the restaurant, most of the dishes prominently feature the aforementioned ingredient, but why stray away from a good thing, right?

That’s not to say Pubbelly doesn’t perform well with non-pork belly plates, such as the duck and pumpkin dumplings or the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and goat cheese.

McBellyBacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and goat cheeseSalt and Pepper Squid

Meanwhile the short rib tartar with quail egg was stellar while the salt and pepper squid was, well, a little too salty. The pork belly with bok choy and butterscotch was decadent but a little too sweet for our taste.

Our favorite dish of the night, however, might have been the beef cheek dumplings with foie gras mousse. While the dumplings are more like ravioli, the beef was so incredibly tender that the entire thing pretty much melted in your mouth.

Duck and pumpkin dumplingsPork belly with bok choy and butterscotchBeef cheek dumplings with foie gras mousse

And for dessert? We decided on the soft-serve yogurt brownie sundae with caramel sauce topped with, you guessed it, crunchy bacon bits! What a great finale of salty and sweet.

Pubbelly is a real gem and we’re so glad that we were fortunate enough to dine at such an excellent establishment during the one night we were in Miami. Well done all around.

Pubbelly on Urbanspoon

Christmas Eve Dinner at Estadio

28 Dec

We have been meaning to dine at Estadio for months now, and since there is always a wait on most evenings, on top of not of the fact that they do not take reservations for parties of six or less after 6pm, we thought Christmas Eve would be an opportune time to finally have dinner at the Logan Circle venue.

We arrived at the restaurant around 7pm and were joined by our friends Randi and Mike. Because of the holiday, we had no problem landing a table, not to mention a great parking spot!

Spice Grilled Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Rice, Salsa LocaMike had recommended we start the night off with some of the Pintxos, skewered selections that were basically hor d’oeuvres. The chorizo, manchego and pistachio crusted quince was a delicious bite but it was the jamon-wrapped fig with bleu cheese that really stood out. It was so good that we had to order two more!

Since we ordered so many plates between the four of us that, giving a brief rundown on each would be the most efficient way to breakdown our meal:

Patatas Bravas: Simply delicious. The rich tomato garlic sauce was not too overpowering while the potatoes were cooked perfectly. I could have eaten another plate just by myself.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Parsley, Garlic: Another excellent vegetable dish. Flawless execution. Seasoned with garlic and parsley, these demonstrated how you serve mushrooms.

Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower & Salbitxada: I don’t know what was better – the impeccably cooked scallops or the accompany cauliflower! I think the scallops rivaled those found at Corduroy, but the tasty Salbitxada sauce gives Estadio the nudge. We asked the waiter if the kitchen could provide the cauliflower as a side, and the chef obliged! The waiter said it best: “Only because it’s Christmas…”

Patatas BravasRoasted Wild Mushrooms, Parsley, GarlicPintxos: chorizo, manchego & pistachio crusted quince and jamon-wrapped fig with bleu cheese

Sautéed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley & Lemon: The shrimp was good but probably my least favorite dish of the night. The garlic was far too intense and completely masked the shrimp’s flavor. The sauce made for an excellent dip to the bread, however.

Grilled Octopus, Potato Caper Salad, Pimenton: Some of the best octopus we have had, and we were in Greece six months ago! Between the charred flavor and Pimenton seasoning, Estadio hit it out of the park with this plate.

Sherry Glazed Black Cod, Smoky Romesco: Incredible. Cooked to perfection. Melted in your mouth. Need I say more?

Spice Grilled Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Rice, Salsa Loca: Our final dish of the night. There were a lot of components to this plate between the dark-meat chicken, cabbage, rice, and salsa. The chicken, however, tasted great and while it wasn’t my favorite item by any means, it was certainly one of the most creative.

Sautéed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley & LemonScallops, Roasted Cauliflower & SalbitxadaGrilled Octopus, Potato Caper Salad, Pimenton

Overall, Estadio was fantastic. It never felt like the kitchen/waitstaff was bombarding you with plates, something we have encountered at similar venues such as at Jaleo, while the service was cordial and pleasant.

I can see why there is always a wait for this place: it’s one of the best tapas restaurants in the entire District. Special thanks to Don Rockwell for the recommendation!

Estadio on Urbanspoon