Saturday, December 1, 2012

Boqueria

In March 2012, Boqueria, a spinoff of the popular Spanish restaurants of the same name in the Flatiron and Soho districts in Manhattan, opened in Dupont Circle.  This Boqueria is the largest to date, with 110 indoor seats and an outdoor patio. Serving lunch, dinner, and brunch on weekends, Boqueria restaurants were inspired by the best tapas bars in Barcelona.  Closest Metro is Dupont Circle or Farragut West.

"Boqueria" takes its name from Mercat de la Boqueria, the famous food market in Barcelona.  Ever since our trip there a couple years ago, Keith and I are huge fans of Spanish tapas and so I was eager to check out this restaurant.  However, when I learned that they now offer a Bottomless Prix Fixe Brunch Menu, I knew I had to make time in the weekend to enjoy this offering first.

The DC restaurant (“the most special of the three,” says its owner) is open with a glass-enclosed vestibule and a dominant bar displaying both food and drink. Walls of white oak and tiled columns follow the color palette of the New York establishments. Boqueria’s signature counter-high, metal-and-leather stools also makes an appearance here.  Chef Brian Murphy leads the helm and has previously cooked at Policy and Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.  The interior design was much more swanky than I expected and provided a classy backdrop to the excellent meal we were to soon experience.

Our server quickly greeted us and immediately mentioned the bottomless brunch option and said he would do his best to keep the drinks flowing.  I chose the Sangría Blanca with white wine, rum, Triple Sec, orange and lemon juice while Keith started with the Sangría Tinta with red wine, gin, Triple Sec, orange, and lemon  juice then later changed to the Bars and Stars Sangría - a concoction of iced tea, Manzanilla Sherry, Rosemary Vodka, and lemon syrup.  The drinks were perfect for daytime imbibing and though Keith would have preferred them a bit stronger, I thought they were just right and complimentary for brunch.

There were so many items on the menu that looked appealing and I literally wanted to order one of each - which is practically what we ended up doing.  The left side featured more "breakfasty" items, while the right side had more heavier tapas items.  We started on the left and ordered the Revuelto de Butifarra y Setas - a soft scramble of organic eggs, pork sausage, wild mushrooms, and goat cheese.  The eggs were so creamy and extremely flavorful and the perfect accompaniment to our boozy drinks.  Next we ate the traditional Spanish omelet of eggs, confit potatoes and Spanish onions called Tortilla Española.  Keith would have preferred it a bit hotter, as it arrived at room temperature, but I found it absolutely delicious and could have eaten another slice all by myself.  It came with a generous squeeze of garlic aioli that added more saltiness to the egg dish.  The chunky slices of potatoes were cooked perfectly and overall, this was one of my favorite dishes.  For our last egg dish, we shared the Torrada de Jamón y Huevo - a beautiful dish of toasted pullman bread, topped with Mahón and Tetilla cheese, fried egg, piperrada, and Jamón Serrano.  The peppers were sweet and the combination with the egg and ham reminded me of a simple morning dish one would eat while sitting outside on their patio.  Hours later, Keith mentioned that he could not stop thinking about this dish - proving how good it really was.  To accompany these egg items, we also ordered smoked bacon and Patatas Bravas, the classic Spanish rendition of crispy potatoes, salsa brava, and roasted garlic aioli.  The bacon was thick cut and good enough to order a second, while the potatoes were perfectly crispy and the tomato salsa was nice and spicy.

By now, I was feeling great and as the sangrias kept on coming, we had time to digest the first major round and placed an order for round two.  As a segue, I wanted the Ensalada de Remolacha - a roasted beet salad with frisée, orange segments, pistachios, Valdeón blue cheese, and a Sherry vinaigrette.  This dish was bright both in color and acidic flavor and really cleansed my palate.  Keith is not a huge fan of beets, but tasted a bit of the salad and stated he preferred the lighter/golden beets to the darker red beets.  The "golden bits" were actually the segments of orange, which is probably why he liked them - ha ha!  As the dining room was much more packed and loud than when were first arrived, the kitchen seemed to pick up so our next round of dishes came out much faster.  We enjoyed a lovely lemony dish of Salteado de Setas, which were sautéed wild mushrooms with Manchego cheese and thyme.  I adore mushrooms, and these did not disappoint.  Next, came the Soldaditos de Pollo - nuggets of potato chip crusted chicken breast served with what was advertised as a dijon mustard aioli, but tasted like the other plain garlic aioli.  The chicken was juicy, but the potato chip crust lacked flavor and fell off too easily.  This was my least favorite dish, but was soon forgotten as we shared a bowl of Mejillones con Azafrán - steamed mussels with fennel and saffron broth.  The mussels were fresh and the broth was light, another great classic Spanish dish.  As I took a break and sipped on yet another sangria, Keith ordered the Bocadillo de Albóndigas - a lamb meatball slider with tomato sauce, sheep's milk cheese, and cucumber on a nicely toasted bun.

Two hours in, we were stuffed to the brim yet could not leave without ending our gluttonous meal with something sweet.  We chose the Churros Rellenos - churros filled with Nutella and tossed in cinnamon sugar and the classic Flan, a caramel egg custard.  The churros were a bit tough, but tasted great with the chocolate hazelnut spread filling.  The flan tasted too bitter, as the caramel sauce seemed to be watery and tasted burnt.  Regardless, we had an epic brunch at Boqueria and most every dish deserved hearts.  The food preparation was simple, flavorful, and true to Spain while the bottomless drinks and food option of the prix fixe menu was an incredible deal.  The ambience was warm, classy, and great for groups with unpretentious service that is attentive and not pushy.  I would definitely come back to Boqueria for brunch, and would also like to check out the regular dinner menu.

Total Rating: 4.6
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
Revuelto de Butifarra y Setas 
soft scramble of organic eggs, pork sausage, wild mushrooms, and goat cheese

Torrada de Jamón y Huevo
toasted pullman bread, Mahón and Tetilla cheese, fried egg, piperrada, Jamón Serrano

Tortilla Española
traditional Spanish omelet of eggs, confit potatoes and Spanish onions

Beicon
smoked bacon

Patatas Bravas
crispy potatoes, salsa brava, roasted garlic allioli

Ensalada de Remolacha
roasted beet salad, frisée, orange segments, pistachios, Valdeón blue cheese, Sherry vinaigrette

Salteado de Setas
sautéed wild mushrooms, Manchego cheese, thyme

Mejillones con Azafrán
steamed mussels, fennel and saffron broth

Soldaditos de Pollo
potato chip crusted chicken breast, dijon mustard allioli

Churros Rellenos
churros filled with Nutella, tossed in cinnamon sugar

Flan
caramel egg custard

Plus Keith ate:
Bocadillo de Albóndigas
lamb meatball slider, tomato sauce, sheep's milk cheese, cucumber

Boqueria on Urbanspoon

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