Tapas Olé

I finally went to Estadio, the Spanish tapas restaurant on 14th street NW.  I had wanted to go for a while and now that I finally have, I’m so excited to share my experience with you.

If you are super cool, you’ll have a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night but if you’re like me and don’t, then you’ll be waiting by the bar for a while.  A few drinks and several orders of tapas will make you forget all about the 2 hour wait for a table, yes that’s right I waited 2 hours!  I usually don’t have the patience to wait so long for a table but Estadio is just so cool and hip, and the drinks happened to be strong and delicious. “You’ve won this time Estadio, but next time you make me wait that long, I will just walk away or outsmart you and make a reservation!”  Heehee.

Before diving into what I ate, I first want to talk about how popular tapas-style dining has become in DC.  It is a style of dining that has bled into all types of cuisines, not just traditional Spanish food.  While many restaurants are excited about the concept of little plates, I know people on a budget are not as enthusiastic.  I understand the trick tapas-style menus play on our minds.  Everything is attached to a reasonable price tag but 12 orders later…the bill is a lot bigger than you had anticipated.  This happens to me every time; each dish is 2-4 bites and my eyes are always larger than my stomach.  Estadio is not the restaurant for you if you’re on a tight budget but the food is phenomenal.

The presentation of each dish was modern and combination of ingredients used for each dish seemed inventive and yet reminiscent of traditional Spanish flavors. The food reminded me of my experiences in Spain and that recognition made the meal very pleasant.  So here’s what I ate.

While we were waiting for our table, my party munched on a Estadio’s Pintxos which are skewered bites.  they were so interesting and the flavors worked together so well.  We first tried their Chorizo, Manchego & Pistachio Crusted Quince skewer.  The pistachio element is what made the dish for me, it brought some sweet tones into the mix of flavors. you can see these on the bottom left part of the picture below.

Next we had the “Pintxo Gilda” Anchovy, Olive & Piparra skewers.  I liked this one but not everybody likes anchovies and I respect that.  The anchovies are a bit salty but it was a nice balance with the piparra-yellowish pepper that has a kind of pickled flavor which you’ll see at the bottom of the skewer. These ingredients are very common in Spanish cuisine but I just love that on-biter.

Finally, we had the Artichoke, Boqueron, Olive and Bread skewer.  Boqueron refers to a fresh anchovy, which has a slightly different flavor from the “Pintxo Gilda” Anchovy in the last skewer.  The Pinxto gilda anchovy is the saltier of the two and soaked in olive oil while the boqueron has a fresher flavor but a stronger aftertaste. It is very traditional in Spanish culture to nibble on boquerones with olive oil and bread accompanied with a glass of vino but in this presentation, all the components are put together into a magical one-biter.

After these three little teasers we decided to sit down before eating more.  Once we did, the dishes continued to intrigue and excite us all.  Next we ordered the deviled eggs, now I’m not a huge fan of deviled eggs but these were fantastic.  the eggs were stuffed with Ensaladilla Rusa-a spanish potato salad that had tuna, potato and egg among other vegetables of choice (peas, onions, carrots).  This absolutely blew me away because I was not expecting the tuna flavor at all.  The presentation was gorgeous as well.

Next we ordered the Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower & Salbitxada.  The scallops were very well seared on the outside without being overcooked.  I really liked this dish.

Okay we got four more dishes and all were superb so just stick with me.  We got an open-faced sandwich with a Foie Gras Mousse, Smoked Duck Breast & Caramelized Onions.  This was a hit, the richness of the foie gras mousse paired perfectly with the sweetness of the onions and smokiness of the duck.

Then there were the Wild Mushroom Croquetas, Arugula, Roasted Peppers.  I could have munched on those things all night long, the crispy outside and melt-in-you-mouth inside just made me want to do a happy dance in my seat.  We ordered an open-faced egg sandwich but I can’t seem to remember exactly what it was on the menu.  It was light and airy, just a nice treat. You’ll see the egg sandwich in the back/top of the picture and the croquetas on the front/bottom of the picture.

Finally, we ordered a vegetarian dish to switch things up of brussels sprouts, pine nuts, rehydrated currants and some vinaigrette over top.  I loved that little bit of acidity the currants brought to each bite.  It was very well-balanced.

And I believe that’s a wrap.  We got a lot of little bites and each one was unique in its own right and yet traditional in taste.  I really hope you all go to Estadio and check it out for yourselves, you won’t regret it.  We decided on this outing not to get the meat and cheese plate (even though it did look fabulous) because we wanted to get into the more creative dishes but it looked like there was quite a variety.

So Salud everyone, enjoy some Spanish food with someone special. Eat, Drink and be Merry!

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