The D.C. food scene was beside itself last month when Michelin released its coveted stars and Bib Gourmand guide for excellent, affordable dining options. Unsurprisingly, renowned chef and restaurateur José Andrés was at the top of both lists, with two stars for Minibar and an impressive four restaurants on the Bib Gourmand – China Chilcano, Zaytinya, Oyamel and Jaleo. These spots are notable not only for their consistently delicious cuisine and high-quality service, but also for their continuous innovation at reasonable prices. Around the time of Andrés well-deserved nod from Michelin, we saw this in action with Jaleo’s new prix fixe Cava Brunch – and it did not disappoint.
When asked about the unveiling of this new option, Jaleo’s reps said the restaurant “looks to infuse every meal with a festive spirit,” so the cava brunch serves as a continuation of that commitment exclusively at the Crystal City and Bethesda locations. Priced at $25 per person, each diner is first able to select two tapas to start from a list of 11 options. This is followed by an entrée, from which guests have seven options to choose. While some are along on the lines of classic Spanish fare – such as egg-adorned rice – others add an Iberian flair to traditional eggs benedict and pancakes. Each meal is accompanied by a glass of cava or a mimosa, with additional glasses of cava available for $5 through the rest of the meal.
This particular Sunday morning brunch happened to be on Jaleo’s Crystal Drive patio with my best girlfriend, and the experience was even lovelier than the perfect October weather. We labored over our tapas and entrée selections with mimosas in hand, but were highly satisfied with our decisions. Of all the delicious options, here’s what we chose:
Manzanas con Hinojo y Queso Manchego
Croquetas de Pollo
Dátiles con Tocino
Lomo de Buey con Huevo Frito y Patatas al Valdeón
Tortitas de Aceite de Oliva
Prior to brunch, my only experience dining Jaleo was during this past summer’s Paella Festival. With each bite, however, I was kicking myself for waiting so long to fully dine there. The apple and fennel salad was fresh and addictingly good, providing much-needed nutrients to offset the other carb-filled dishes. I was especially intrigued by the of the unique flavor pancakes, which were prepared with extra virgin olive oil and served with honey in lieu of maple syrup. My absolute favorite, however, may have been the most simple of all – patatas bravas. These were the first potatoes I’ve had in Washington that measured up to those I tried in Peru, so naturally I celebrated by scraping the plate clean.
In addition to all of the fabulous food, our coffee cups and basket of crusty bread were repeatedly filled. The service, as with all Andrés’ establishments, was great. Overall, this is an amazing brunch deal for those actually concerned with the quality of the food as opposed to the quantity of mimosas. It’s absolutely worth the trip to either Crystal City or Bethesda. I left completely full and – had I not made my way to the airport immediately afterward – would have been thoroughly prepped for a Sunday afternoon siesta.