After reading and re-reading boards, we decided to eat at Jaleo tonight. Overall, we had some hits and some misses, but would gladly go back again.
We started with the La Serena con membrillo - a pastry cone filled with La Serena cheese and quince paste. Crunchy sweet pastry cone, jellied sweet quince, and creamy La Serena cheese which looks like a teensy tiny ice cream cone. About 2 bites but they were fantastic and set the bar a bit high for the next couple of courses. Especially liked the contrasting tastes and textures. I'd eat about 5 of these again in a heartbeat.
For appetizers - we ordered the White Asparagus with lemon, thyme and Idiazabal cheese. The white asparagus were blanched, crunchy, chilled, and served with microplaned cheese in a lemon sauce. It was bland - I would have liked maybe a hit of anchovy or olives in it. Wouldn't order or recommend.
App #2 was the chicken croquetas. For fried food (which I rarely eat) it was very good, but I thought this was bland as well. Nice textures but really not interesting. Dinner was looking grim at that point.
Salad #1 - the Warm Brussels sprouts salad with apricots, apple, and Serrano ham (there were also grapes in this). We love brussels sprouts, and indeed all of the individual ingredients, but it too was subtle to the point of ho hum (perhaps the La Serena pastry at the beginning was so good and flavorful that everything was paling by comparison?) Wouldn't order this again.
Salad #2 - the Sliced Apple and fennel salad with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and sherry dressing. While not a huge fan of fennel - I thought that this salad was saved by the incredibly fresh, toasted walnuts, the lovely Manchego (nicely aged, good flavor), and the sherry viniagrette. The acidity of the viniagrette mixed with creamy cheese super fresh, crunchy walnuts was quite good. Not fabulous, mind you, but worth eating.
Entree #1 - Seared Scallops with romesco sauce - my husband and I both wanted to order this entree, but we only ordered one serving so that we could try other things. When we go back, I'll order the La Serena, and then move directly to this seared scallop. The very best scallop I have ever had, an intense sear/crust (not the best romesco sauce I've ever had - once again, a bit watery and bland) but the dish was just fantastic taken as a whole. I'd order this again. And again.
Entree #2 - Grilled Skirt Steak with Piquillo Peppers - I had read on another report of Jaleo that someone liked this entree. It was fantastic. A small piece of skirt steak sitting on top of a piquillo pepper (which is a little bit sweet and was a great offset for the steak which was grilled perfectly medium rare). We both loved this dish. The waiter came up to us and apologized for not getting our entrees out and in reality, we ate them so fast he didn't see that we got them. Great entrees.
Dessert - my husband grew up in Mexico and we both love flan. We ordered 2 servings of flan. It really isn't flan - more like a creme caramel (or the bottom of a creme brulee without the brulee), but it was served with the most fantastic small scoop of lemon sorbet. I'm not a fan of lemon gelato/sorbet however this was fantastic. The accompanying whipped cream was served with what we think was orange peel shreds that appeared to be deep fried. Both servings disappeared. The people sitting next to us (tables are close, make friends, OK??) ate flan at the same time we did and everyone wondered if it was OK to lick the plate. Yup, that good. Nope, no one licked the plate.
We did not order the paella as it was vegetarian and we had two salads and an asparagus dish and wanted some protein for dinner. However, when we left they had a shrimp paella going, so apparently they make and sell one, then when it is gone, make something else. In the future I would ask again to see if they had a different one. I did want to try the paella.
Previous comments that we would agree with:
1. Noisy. Very, very noisy.
2. I thought that the chef over-salted the food, especially the skirt steak - I would advise the waiter in the future to have them hold the salt. They appeared to be using large grained salt and when you got a grain it just overwhelmed the food. Some mouthfuls were salty to distraction.
3. They couldn't possibly get one more table in this restaurant, so just go with it.
The server said people normally ate 2-3 plates. We only ate part of the salad, but ate 4 plates and are nicely full. For 2 people, we ate 8 plates (+ 2 cheese cones), 2 beers, and a soda for $165 (including tip). I think fair value for the quality of food.
?? LOS tomorrow or maybe somewhere else. I'll probably make and break 2 or 3 reservations before something strikes me as being the right food.