Lukewarm Experience at Dupont Hot Spot
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 23:03
Having already garnered rave reviews in New York, Boqueria, notable for its high-end Spanish cuisine, has made its D.C. debut with a location in Dupont Circle. Inspired by the Barcelona tapas bars, Boqueria offers traditional dishes that are meant to be shared. What makes Boqueria stand out amongst other tapas style restaurants is that it relies only on using naturally flavorful, market-fresh ingredients.
Despite the anticipation and promise of a delectable meal, we were not seated until over two hours after our 6:15 p.m. reservation. Warning to hungry foodies: The hustle and bustle that is Dupont Circle made finding parking difficult, and our 20-minute delay led the hostesses to keep us waiting until 8:30 p.m. By that time, we were not only ravenously hungry, but also completely miserable. Over the course of our two-hour wait we considered calling it quits and fleeing to the Chipotle next door more than once. Our outrage must have been blatantly apparent because, later in the night, the manager gave us free drinks and flatbread, which at least partially subdued my frustration.
However, although the initial service left much to be desired, as soon as the waiter arrived and recommended some dishes, the tense, bitter mood of the evening began to change for the better. We started the meal off with some pan con tomate. Don’t let the simplicity of this dish fool you: The slices of fresh, white bread smothered with a bruschetta-like spread were delicious. Along with the bread, we ordered a selection of cheeses that came with olives, grapes and nuts for pairing. The rosemary manchego, a nutty, hard cheese made of sheep’s milk, was quite satisfying, but the La Serena, a soft, sheep’s milk cheese, was my favorite. Its buttery, rich texture, combined with the pan con tomate, was the perfect start to our meal.
Up next was the datiles con beicon, dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon. An impeccable combination of salty and sweet flavors, the warmed dates were easily my favorite of the plates we had ordered. My only complaint regarding this dish was that there were only three dates in a portion. Although the three dates were not nearly enough to satisfy us after the long wait, perhaps it bodes well for the chef that we were left longing — and excited — for more.
The tortilla espanola and albondigas encompassed the more hearty portions of our meal. The tortilla was typical, and seemingly identical, to that of Georgetown’s Bodega Tapas Restaurant. Served cold with a mayo-like dipping sauce, the eggs, potatoes and onions combined to form a very ordinary dish. The albondigas was a far greater treat. These lamb meatballs were covered with tomato sauce and melted sheep’s milk cheese; we ate all of them in just a few seconds. In fact, they were so appetizing that I used a spoon to finish off the tomato sauce even when the meatballs were gone. After the meatballs, our waiter surprised us with another treat to make up for the earlier portion of our evening: a flatbread covered in an assortment of fresh ingredients including onions, shrimp and basil. Because it was not on the menu, the meal’s ingredients were difficult to discern, but what can be affirmed is that they were delicious.
For dessert, we could not decide between splitting the crema catalana clasica and churros con chocolate, so we opted for both. We could have done without the crema; it was strikingly similar to creme brulee, but less sweet. The churros, however, were no mistake. Paired with a bowl of melted chocolate to dip them in, the churros had a crunchy outer layer surrounding warm dough that left me completely satisfied.
Although Boqueria should be commended for its delectable dishes, due to the misfortunes of the first half of my evening and comparable tapas places in Georgetown, I do not think I will be going back. However, if you enjoy tapas and organic ingredients, Boqueria is worth the trip to Dupont. Just make sure you’re on time.