Taberna del Alabardero
It’s a True Fact© that Taberna del Alabardero, a couple of blocks from the White House, is Washington’s best Spanish restaurant. As its website notes it’s “the most authentic Spanish restaurant outside Spain since 1989”.
The restaurant is part of Grupo Lezama, which has operated in Spain since 1974, when it opened the original Taberna del Alabardero next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. The Madrid restaurant continues to thrive.
My meal at the Washington outpost was a delight, from start to finish.
Ensaladilla de Cangrejo con Espuma de Mahonesa de Zanahoria y Brotes de Guisantes
I didn’t even try to approximate the pronunciation of the names of the dishes on the menu. This starter was described as a crab and potato salad with carrot mayonnaise foam and pea shoots. Interesting dish, but I tasted only a hint of crab.
Chipirones a la Parrila con Cebolla Confitada al Oporto, Alioli de Tintade Calamar y Patas Crujientes
This was a brilliantly-plated work of art. It was so beautifully done that I was reluctant to disturb its symmetry, but, somehow, I managed to cut into the grilled squid and take a bite. And another. And another….
The menu described it as grilled baby squids with oporto caramelized onion, squid ink allioli (the Spanish version of the French garlic sauce aioli), and crisp potatoes. Before my waiter served the dish, the “grilled baby squids” part of the description had me expecting tiny pieces, but the squid sections were huge—the largest I’ve ever seen.
Tierras de Chocolate con Yogurt, Frutos Rojos, Pistachos y Sorbete de Mango
Loved the dessert, too. Chocolate crumbs with yogurt, berries, pistachios, and a mango sorbet. The berries were a mix with one or two berries of each type, which made eating this dessert something of a happy treasure hunt.
Service throughout was impeccable and friendly.
About Those Grilled “Baby” Squids
As I noted above, what the menu described as “grilled baby squids” were, in fact, gigantic. I thought the meaning of the Spanish phrase had been incorrectly translated until something happened shortly after I left Taberna del Alabardero.
I was walking home, past the branch of the Potomac River that flows down the middle of 17th Street, when I saw this:
It was the enraged mother squid (technically, the “Queen Squid”) attacking one of the restaurant’s supply ships. I’d always thought the “The Giant Squid of the Potomac” was a myth or an urban legend, but here I was, seeing it with my own eyes. As the Giant Squid dragged the vessel beneath the waves, I quickly snapped the above photograph. There was no time for a second shot, as the squid, the ship, and the unfortunate crew were swept over the 17th Street Falls and deeper into the river, which flows under the White House and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Thank goodness I was able to get a clear photograph as proof of what I saw!
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