With a certain measure of trepidation, I went to Jaleo for lunch. Not because I was unsure of the quality of the food - rather, I've eaten at the other two Jose Andres restaurants on previous trips to DC (including trying the Mini Bar at Cafe Atlantico) - but because I was eating by myself. Yes, this was the first time I ever ventured into a restaurant by myself, as the friends I'm visiting were - gasp! - busy. But a girl needs to eat, and I decided to finish out the troika of Jose Andrew resturants in DC.
Sitting at the bar - no, not brave enough to sit at a table quite yet - I ordered a glass of sangria while I perused the menu and nibbled on bread and olive oil. Just too many choices, and I asked the bartender to narrow them down for me. Eventually, I ended up with the following:
-Veal sweetbreads with 'pisto Manchego' stew. I like sweetbreads, and these were done rather well. A very healthy serving size. The 'stew' was composed of well-cooked vegetables - zucchini, eggplant, onions, red bell peppers. This was my favourite among the three tapas I ordered.
-Croquetas, made with ham and cheese. Also very good - not overfried and oozing oil, which I've found happens when you get croquetas at other places.
-Coco catalana. Flatbread, draped with red bell pepper, onions, olives and melted manchego. Served in a white paper bag, as if you had ordered it on the streets of Spain. I was happy that the olive taste wasn't predominant, but rather mingled with all the other flavours.
Finished off my meal with a glass of amontillado, and was set! It wasn't such a scary experience after all (and definitely helps that I had books downloaded to my PDA to read).
Tab came to $35 with tax and tip. Perhaps more than I would normally spend on lunch, but I spent a leisurely 90 minutes there (I can be a very slow eater) and it was well worth it.
(And as for my red velvet cake question - thanks for all the help. A quick trip to Safeway that night yielded unfortunately no cake, but with the help of a Duncan Hines mix (but homemade frosting of course!) and a wonderful friend, we had red velvet cupcakes later that night that temporarily suppressed the craving.)