Estadio Que Bueno!

New restaurants are opening in DC at a surprising rate. Cuba LibraCasa Nonna. Carmine’s, and Galileo III, are just a few of the very recent additions. My restaurant “to do” list is getting exceedingly long.  However, deep down I know that it’s impossible to get to a fraction of the new restaurants when I still have some highly rated establishments left to conquer which have long been on the scene.
Just keeping up with reading about restaurants is challenging.  There are the weekly chats from Tom Sietsema of  The Washington Post and Todd Kliman of Washingtonian Magazine, emails from Urban Daddy DC, TastingTableDC, and TheListareYouonIt, plus tweets, blogs and Facebook messages from local food bloggers such as  Metrocurean and Dining in DC.
When the opportunity arises to go downtown to a restaurant, the decision is usually a tough one for me.  But one restaurant which quickly bubbled up to the top of my list is Estadio.
Estadio, a contemporary Spanish tapas restaurant, recently opened on 14th Street. The positive buzz is hard to miss. A review by Tom Sietsema was published right before our visit, and his description of the food and atmosphere further fueled my anticipation.
Estadio is a big wow.  I loved so much about it that I am not quite sure where to begin.
para comenzar (to begin)
Before I start raving, I’ll start with the only negative.  If you are a party of less than six people, you can only make a reservation before 6:00 pm.  After that you are subjected to a wait. Eating at a Spanish restaurant at 6:00 pm is somewhat counterintuitive.  In Spain you are hard-pressed to find a restaurant that opens for dinner before 9:00 pm.  But we decided it was worth dining early rather than showing up at 7:00 and having to wait for an hour or more.  It was a good decision.  The wait for a table when we left was an hour and a half.
Estadio’s decor effectively conjures up Spain.  I’m going to quote Tom Sietsema rather than reinvent the wheel here:
The design is as inviting as much of the food. Online naysayers have compared the setting to a Renaissance fair, but I like the way Spain takes over from Washington when you walk inside. From the heavy wood door in the vestibule that announces Estadio in cursive steel script to the steel rosettes gracing a movable red-leather wall, lots of thought has been lavished on the look.” 
 
I was all set to begin my meal with a Slushee drink (the alcoholic kind, not the kind they toss on Glee).  I had a little trepidation so our Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike waiter (the young Robert Downey, Jr). steered me to the Piscina Nino which featured manzanilla (no I don’t know what that is), cava, honey, and anisette.  The drink is a little bit bubbly and just a teensy bit sweet.  It was a nice way to start.  My friend had a Tecolate, which is tequila and cava, rosemary and grapefruit.  It’s a toss-up in terms of which drink is better.
The tapas menu is nicely divided into twelve sections including cheeses, meats, skewered, soups and salads, open faced, etc. Our party of four managed to sample items in nine of the sections.  We’re pretty proud of ourselves for conquering so much territory in one visit.
Here are some highlights.  I don’t want to reveal how much food we really ate, even if some of it was strictly for the purpose of this review.
patatas bravas
Patatas Bravas. Every tapas restaurant has them.  Not every one does it this well.
wild mushroom croquetas
Wild mushroom croquetas, arugula, roasted peppers.  These are so good, I wish we had ordered more.
tortilla espanaola
Tortilla Espanola, alioli, sweet hot peppers.  Appearing on the eggs and fried section of the menu, may seem like a breakfast dish but this works just fine for dinner.
sherry glazed halibut
Sherry Glazed Halibut, smoky romesco.  The sauce was divine.  That’s all I’m saying.
spice grilled chicken
Spice grilled chicken, cabbage slaw, rice, salsa loca.  The chicken was cooked perfectly and I should have scooped up every remaining drop of sauce on the plate. (I didn’t.)
bocadillos with cabrales
The only thing I didn’t like was the bocadillos with cabrales.  I didn’t really understand that this was blood sausage when I ordered it.  I don’t like blood sausage.  The bread on the other hand was crisp and delicious.
For dessert we shared pumpkin panna cotta and a warm pear cake. They were both excellent, although not the most memorable part of the meal.
The most difficult thing about finding a restaurant with so much to like is that it becomes part of my balancing act.  Do I go back for another visit or do I keep trying to work down my to do list?  That is to be determined.  But I’m thinking I’ll be back at Estadio sooner rather than later.
Estadio   1520 14th Street, NW
My rating (on a 1-5 scale):  4.8  



Estadio on Urbanspoon



Comments

  1. Love the addition of photos to your posts! Does anyone look at you funny for taking pics? I wish I had done that at Alize' in Vegas!

  2. foodobsessed says:

    Thanks! Todd is my photographer and we try and be as discreet as possible.

  3. Your review nudged us to a post-theatre dinner on Sunday. No balancing required here, I'll return again and again. The Best Cocktail I can ever remember: Raj Gin and ThymeOrange Tonic. Called for a second.
    Luscious cheeses, Pork Belly & Peppers, HeirloomTomats w/ Goat Cheese, Halibut , Duck & lentils. Every item I would reorder. This Studio Theatre subscriber is very happy.
    …..and our waitress looked like Scarlett Johansson!!

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