Sunday, January 14, 2007
from DCFUD - TdA
It was no surprise that Taberna Del Alabardero would have a delicious menu for Restaurant Week. The place is synonmous with quality and hospitality in both on both sides of the Atlantic. What I wasn't prepared for was the majesty of the place, nearly dwarfing the quality of the food.
It would be wise for all interior decorators and designers to study the Taberna, to show how a restaurant can "make and entrance" like a movie star. The small, crowded bar area was full of people waiting for their tables or content to munch on tapas. That small waiting area quickly gives way to glorious dining chambers, featuring high ceilings, bold red paint and soft lighting. Tables are spaced far enough apart to lend a sense of privacy, and the design allows for plenty of background noise that never intrudes. The walls are decorated with various paintings, a whimsical hat decoration frames the coat check closet; classic prints from the Old World, and lend to the illusion that the next two hours will be spent in the south of Spain, not two blocks from the White House.
My friends at the table remarked at the quality of the duck mixed in with their field greens. Duck can be a tricky bird to serve, as it can go from soft and flaky to overcooked and gamey with little warning, but the light salt taste and gentle texture gave good contrast to the salad. The white bean soup was complemented with pieces of quail and slab bacon, and I was tempted to order another bowl or three. The mushroom sauce topping the salmon drew raves, while the peppered flank and potatoes were seasoned perfectly. My only complaint was that I should have ordered the white and dark chocolate mousse with almond whisky sponge cake - yeah, I gained a pound just writing that. I ordered the flan, and while it was certainly acceptable, the mousse was clearly the star.
After such a fine meal, Chef Santi Zabaleta's tasting menu looks a lot like my upcoming birthday gift from myself to myself...and it's a lot more affordable than an iPhone!
Taberna Del Alabardero
1776 I Street NW
Washington DC 20006