Tapas Tasting at Taberna del Alabardero

Are there restaurants in your city that you hear about and mean to visit but just don't? Taberna Del Alabardero in Washington DC is one of those restaurants for me. I've been hearing the impressive name of this Spanish restaurant for a while and have imagined a place full of history, great food, and to be completely honest older, more established clientele.

This all changed when I had a chance to visit Taberna Del Alabardero to try out their new tapas menu designed by the restaurant's relatively new young chef Javier Romero who comes directly from Madrid. {Note: This was an invitation from a restaurant and I did not pay for this meal. My opinions, however, are my own.}

The decor is indeed old fashioned, impressive and almost screams you'll be treated like royalty. The group of us dined in one of the private rooms that featured dark walls, gold embellishments and a pretty chandelier.

I started the night with a white sangria, which is always my preference, but not always available. The memories of my trip to Madrid with Anna and Radha rushed back in full force. Let's just say this was not the last sangria of the night.

I apologize for the yellowish tint in the photos: the lighting was not really suitable, and they don't do the food justice, so just be aware of that.

Sitting around the table we listened to the history of the restaurant, met the chef, and got to taste the new selection of tapas. Are you ready?

On the left: traditional potato and egg omelet with a light beet ali-oli; on the right: Iberian ham croquettes with shaves of cured cheese. I loved how these cubes were served on mini forks and required two bites maximum. The full version of this dish is larger: we just got a sample because there would be too much food otherwise.

While waiting for the next tapa selection, we enjoyed freshly baked bread with Spanish olive oil. This oil had a deep greenish color and a great olive flavor. And we were lucky enough to take a bottle home! I can't wait to cook with it.

Smoked and rare salmon tartar with pumpkin puree. First of all, I absolutely loved the presentation. Anything served in a martini glass is a plus. I love salmon and enjoyed the two different preparations. But I did not really understand the pairing of the fish with a pumpkin puree. Yes, it's fall and pumpkin is in season, but it seemed odd to me. On its own, however, the pumpkin puree was smooth and had a creamy flavor.

This was one of my favorite dishes: piquillo peppers stuffed with crab meat and "moron" pepper sauce. The colors of this dish were so vibrant and what's not to like about seafood stuffed into sweet peppers and topped with caviar? We were all amazed at how smooth the filling was: that's the beauty of industrial professional kitchen equipment.

When I was in Madrid, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Russian Potato Salad on the menu. Well, Taberna had one as well: cold potato, eggs, tuna and vegetables salad. Unlike the Russian version  my family makes, this salad had raw peas, lacked pickles, and instead added tuna. I suppose each culture has its own version. I was just happy that the potatoes were cooked all the way through and all the vegetables were cut to the same size. I could eat this salad daily!

Fresh codfish fritters with traditional creamy tomato sauce:

Sorry, I can't remember what this was.

Vegetables battered and fried:

Brochette of roasted pork marinated with curry and a "mojo-picon" sauce. I love pork and I loved this dish. The meat was tender and the curry flavors transported this dish from Spain to India for me. It's like traveling around the world while sitting at your dining room table.

And this, my friends, was by far the favorite dish of the night for me and others around the table: braised ox tail with creamy rice and fava beans. I think this is the first time I've tried ox tail, and I can't wait to eat it again. The dish was your quintessential comfort food, yet very elegant with the addition of beet crisps. This is something you can enjoy weekly (if not daily) during winter months.

Another I've-never-had-this dish for me was pastry crisp stuffed with blood sausage and served with apple puree and Parmesan cheese. Yes, I've never had blood sausage...not sure why; maybe I've just never had a chance? This is a great appetizer to have at your next party. Your guests can pick up the "cigars" and eat them in a few bites. The bright and cheery apple puree balanced the heavier texture and flavor of the blood sausage.

And then there was dessert! Three different types of chocolate in different preparations (ice cream, cake, truffle (?)) topped with white chocolate sauce. I wanted to dive in and take a bath in it!

I was very much impressed with the quality of food, the pretty presentation and the inventiveness. And I was also pretty full. But wait! There were two more courses to follow: cheese and honey platter and a platter of mini desserts.

Thank you to Taberna Del Alabardero for a wonderful night!

What are your favorite Spanish tapas?


Heavenly Housewife said...

Everything looks absolutely beautiful... and that decor... how fabulous! You must have felt like a Spanish princess eating tapas in there :)
*kisses* HH

Anonymous said...

Since you don't specify, your readers are left to assume this meal was free? Please let us know this explicitly because as impartial as we all try to be, opinions change when meals are comped.

Megan said...

I was thinking that salmon and pumpkin sounded like an odd pairing.

We are going to have a fabulous time at dinner on Monday... I can already tell!

And that dessert looks incredible.

My favorite traditional tapas dish is gambas al ajillo... the shrimp and garlic dish. Yum!

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Dear Anonymous. How brave of you to leave a lovely comment questionining my partiality while leaving your own name out. Yes, I did not have to pay for the meal. If saying I was invited to a tasting is not enough, I'm going to edit my write up and say it was free. Hope you are pleased.

Anonymous said...

Don't get upset, that's an FTC guideline. Nobody is questioning your partiality, it's just good to know what is free and what isn't.


The Duo Dishes said...

The piquillo peppers and pork look like the two winners. That would be enough right there. Oh, and the free olive oil too! Don't you just love deep, flavorful olive oils?

City Girl said...

Ooh - I didn't realize that Taberna had a new chef. I haven't been there in a while, but I will soon! My faves: gambas al ajillo; tortilla espanola and patatas bravas. xoxo

nicole said...

being invited to a dinner is enough to say that it was free 99.9% of the time.

that sangria looks awesome! it's refreshing to see white wine sangrias since i don't care for red wine.

i wish that the portions you received were the way that normal diners would get them, i love eating small bites of one or two.

the interior of of TDA looks so impressive, like colonial/renaissance era spain! is the rest of the restaurant decorated like the private rooms?

like you, I've always heard TDA's name around town, but have never been there. maybe this will change that!

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know how much your meal would have cost if you had paid (not because there is a partiality issue, just to help me assess the cost of a meal). I suppose I could try to pull up the menu and add it all up myself, but I'm just saying I would be curious.

The photos are gorgeous and I appreciate the opinions!