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Thursday, May 3, 2012

First Look: Boqueria

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup

Meeting up with Official Friend of DCWD Juli, we decided to try out new New York import and new tapas restaurant Boqueria.

The Vibe

Like its presumptive competitors, the newly renovated Jaleo or Estadio, Boqueria's decor is impressive and upscale, and sets the tone for its atmosphere. Unlike the Moorish design of Estadio or the mod, avant-garde Jaleo redesign, Boqueria is very... well, New York. It's clean and sharp, with a white and birch and tan color scheme that abounds. Housed in the old Penang space above Chipotle, you walk in to view the central square bar where some of the tapas are also prepared in the window. Above the bar are chalkboards listing out all of the beer and wine options.

The walls are either painted white brick, or white and brown porcelain tiles, or wood paneling, giving the space a particularly bright feel when light shines in through the windows that surround the dining area. Seating is mixed, from the swivel stools around the bar to large eight seat tables, to high bar seating. The two-tops are of particular interest: they are all high half-booths with the same uncomfortably tight bar stools, and are so on top of one another that the tables have to be pulled out for you to get in. So on the one hand, it's impressive and slightly swank; on the other hand, it's tight and gets real loud real quick.

The Food

For our first dish, we had my choice: fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast. This was my choice, and I admit to being a little disappointed with it in retrospect. Which is to say that it wasn't particularly different than eggs and sausage on toast, or as Juli put it, "this tastes like breakfast." For the exotic ingredients, I would've wanted it to be more imaginative than that.

Second was the dish that we had to order because of Juli's love of the dish and the blog's namesake: bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with valdeon and almonds. These were a pretty solid example of a classic tapas plate, all sorts of sweet and salty and rich. We popped them into our mouths quickly and deliciously.

Next up were lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and sheep's milk cheese. This dish was good but not great. The meat was fairly succulent, albeit plain, with some decent pick up from the basil and cucumber and cheese. I wish I could say, like Marshall in HIMYM, "this could be our little albondigas." Again, they were decent but not stop-the-presses.

Last was a special on the daily menu, peppers stuffed with braised oxtail in a potato puree. Interestingly, despite it not being on the regular menu, this was probably the best of the night, with stringy oxtail and rich flavor mixing with some interesting texture shifts between the smooth mash and the crunchy onions.

The Verdict

Some good things, and a swank decor in a prime location.

Food Rating: ***
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd to Suits Scene
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
: It being almost Cinco de Mayo, you'll have to supplement your Spanish with some Mexican. Head to Lauriol (or any number of margarita purveyors) for a nightcap.

Boqueria on Urbanspoon