Jaleo by José Andrés

Restaurant: Jaleo

Location: 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109. 702.698.7000 (Cosmopolitan)

Date: September 24, 2011

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

Rating: Fun Tapas Bar


So what does a true Foodie Club member do after eating a 22 course tasting dinner at é by José Andrés? Why have a second dinner of course!

This is the final part of my mini-Vegas series. Be sure to check out the opulent Twist and é reviews.

é is the “secret” 8 seat restaurant located within the more mainstream Jaleo, a small chain venture of José Andrés’ bringing moderately authentic Spanish tapas and paella with a modern bent to America.

Certainly the build out in the swank new Cosmopolitan hotel in Vegas is well… swank.

Tapas bar — literally.

Seems pretty Spanish.

They have an elaborate paella station. Racks are situated here where the traditional big pans can brew up this good stuff over wood fires.

Oooh, and the wine list is an iPad app. Which is a cool idea but at current is slightly slower and more awkward than a traditional paper list.

One of the staff from é (who secured us our no wait table) recommended this excellent and approachable Spanish red. “The 2000 Dehesa la Granja Seleccion received malolactic in French oak barrels followed by an additional 2 years in the oak. It offers more complex aromatics (mineral, cedar, spice box, smoke, leather, and black fruits) but is compact, a bit too structured in the mouth, and the finish is somewhat abrupt. If time pulls this wine together, my score will look conservative.”

The menu. Many of the dishes are variants of Spanish classics.

“Endives, goat cheese, oranges, and almond.” Bear in mind that we did JUST EAT a huge four hour tasting menu — and there are only two of us eating this “post dinner snack.” So we started light. These were very tasty, with bright bright flavors.

Gambas al ajillo.” In Spain usually called Gambas pilpil. Basically shrimp boiled (fried?) in olive oil and garlic. These were very typical of what I must have had 30 times in southern Spain. The quality of the shrimp here was higher than is often the case at cheap places in Spain.

Here is photo of a typical example of this I got one afternoon in Cordoba. At Jaleo, they plated them out of the crock, but in spain it’s always served sizzling right off the stove.

Now on to the paella. Which, like rissoto, is all about the rice. In this case Bomba. This rice absorbs a lot more liquid than lamer rices.

The only problem with the Jaleo implementation is that in the interest of expediency they don’t cook the paella as long as they should (at least 45 minutes). Instead they force it at a little higher temperature. This doesn’t allow for the maximum paella effect.

“Arroz a banda con bogavante.” Rice apart from the lobster. The lobster was excellent. The paella itself a tiny bit bitter from the saffron. Still, a very enjoyable dish.

“Arroz con cosillas de cerdo iberico de bollota.” Made with the famous black-footed iberico de bellota pig. Ribs in particular. This was an amazing paella, and the sweetness of the pork leant the rice a sweet meaty goodness. Yum!

The dessert menu. Even “after dinner snacks” need three courses.

“Helado de aceite de oliva con cítricos texturados. Olive oil ice cream with grapefruit.” Two flavors of ice cream, a bit of grapefruit.

And a drizzle of olive oil.

Interesting contrast again of the sweet and slightly oily salty. A satisfying conclusion.

Overall, Jaleo seemed good. I can’t quite judge it fully as we didn’t have a real meal, just a “snack,” but I enjoyed what we had and having spent a month recently in Spain I have a pretty good palette for the stuff. It tasted pretty Spanish — filtered through a bit of internationalization.

Click here for the 22 course meal that proceeded this — the same night!

For more Food Club extravaganzas.

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Quick Eats – Bar Pinxto

Restaurant: Bar Pinxto

Location: 109 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA. (310) 458-2012

Date: August 19, 2011

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

Rating: Quick little lunch bargain


After seeing Fright Night we shopped around Santa Monica for a lunch place and decided to revisit Bar Pinxto. This is a genuine Spanish Tapas Bar, in that it’s a bar first, restaurant second. Still they have a wide variety of traditional Spanish Tapas (as they would in Spain).

There is a small amount of outside seating.

And the cute little interior space.

Being Spanish, olives grace the table. Bar Pinxto has a $15 3 course lunch menu which is an excellent deal and a lot of food.

First course was Gazpacho. This was certainly a good implementation of the classic form of the soup. Not quite as good as the Jose Andres variety at The Bazaar/Saam/Tres, but good. I like the fine pureed texture.

Classic Paella, one of the second courses. This was pretty traditional, with muscles and chorizo. It could have benefited from a few more ingredients, but was respectable.

Squid with squid ink over Spanish rice (basically paella). The squid was soft and tasty, although the portion was smaller than the paella.

Pot du creme, chocolate. This was a damn good chocolate cream/mousse thingy. Damn good. Sort of a chocolate version of Gjelina’s butterscotch one.

Overall, the quick Pinxto $15 lunch is an excellent deal. The food was good and pretty authentically Spanish, and you certainly get a lot for your money.

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Pleased by Picca

Restaurant: Picca [1, 2]

Location: 9575 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. Tel: 310 277 0133

Date: August 15, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Peruvian

Rating: Really interesting flavors


I was really excited to try this new Modern Peruvian. As best I can tell (having never been to Peru other than an airport stop in Lima) Peru has a really interesting culinary melange going on merging Spanish, traditional South American, and Japanese influences. I’ve heard that much of the wave of innovation in American Modern Japanese started by Nobu Matsuhisa (detailed look here) is really just Peruvian. In any case, on to the food.

This space is just above what used to be Test Kitchen last year and is now the excellent Sotto. The chef is Ricardo M. Zarate, a Lima native, and as far as I can tell, he rocks.

The menu. This is all served Tapas style, which you all know is my favorite.

Burgundy! Parker gives this 92, “Bachelet’s 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes – from 60- to 70-year-old vines both below the route nationale and north of Gevrey in Brochon – offers lovely black fruit aromas with hints of anise and mint. A truly palate-staining intensity of vividly-fresh, tart but ripe black cherry and blackberry is underlain by firm, fine tannins (not precluding an emerging silkiness of texture) and augmented by bitter-herbal and stony notes. Although palpably dense and abundantly tannic, this outstanding village wine still comes off as juicy, sleek, invigorating and refined. Put it away for at least 5-7 years.”

jalea mixta. crispy mixed seafood, tartare sauce.” Some really good fried seafood. The tartare sauce was fantastic too.

chicharron de pollo. marinated crispy chicken, salsa criolla, rocoto sauce.” Also good fry. Like uber chicken nuggets.

tres leches de tigre. rocoto, aji amarillo, sea urchin shooters.” Three different gazpacho-like shooters. I had the Uni one. It was very limey/vinegary which I like.

ceviche mixto. mixed seafood, sweet potato, choclo.” Mixed fresh seafood marinated. Those things on the right are the giant peruvian corn kernels. The fish was very fresh, particularly the shrimp. The marinate was tasty, but certainly had a very strong lime/vinegar thing going on.

On the left: “santa barbara prawns. lemon grass yuzu kosho pesto.” Very tender sweet prawns, with the sauce definitely adding.

On the right: “black cod. miso anticucho, crispy sweet potato.” Tasty too. The potato chips though were even better 🙂

Apparently in Peru sushi is done with these yellow blocks instead of rice and called causa sushi. The stuff looks like polenta but is actually a mash of yellow potato with some spices.

This is the “unagi. avocado, cucumber, eel sauce” and it’s pretty much your eel sushi. Of all these causas this was my favorite as the polenta is heavier and stronger flavored than rice and the eel held up to it best.

scallops. mentaiko.” Certainly tasty, but it would have been better with rice.

albacore. garlic chip, ceviche sauce.” My second favorite of this set.

spicy yellow tail. spicy mayo, green onions, wasabi tobiko.” Also good, but the fourth potato bar was beginning to feel too heavy.

arroz chaufa de mariscos. mixed seafood, peruvian fried rice, pickled radish.” This was a nice version of paella. Brighter and more citrusy (by far) than it’s Spanish cousin. The ingredients were very fresh.

seco de pato. duck leg confit, black beer sauce, cilantro rice.” This was a slight disappointment. It was perfectly cooked, but given the volume level of the flavors of this meal it felt a little muted, particularly the rice.

chicharron de costillas. crispy pork ribs crostini, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, salsa criolla.” This however was pretty spectacular, one of the best pork sandwiches I’ve tried.

We finished the wine and decided to explore some of the awesome cocktails as “dessert beverages.” These drinks are by mixologist Julian Cox. The cocktail menu.

This was “chilcano de anis, lime juice, ginger syrup, anise syrup, pisco, soda, mint sprig, pernod.” It was pretty damn good, tasting like sweet mint licorice.

Sabertooth. cachaca, muddled blueberries, apricot liquor, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, shaken, lime wheel & blueberry.” Pretty great too.

Rhubarb Sidecar.” Cognac, pisco, fresh lemon juice, rhubarb gastrique, shake violentyly (and they mean it), garnished with spiced sugar.” Also great.

Christopher Oaxacan. Single village mezcal, passion fruit, fresh lemon juice, orgeat, lavender bitters.” The super smokey (and very good) mezcal overwhelmed everything else. It basically tasted like mezcal with lime.

“Lemon tart.” This was a pretty amazing dessert. Light and airy, almost foamy, the intense lemoness paired nicely with the sweet pineapple stuff on the side.

I love even street cart churros but these were pretty supreme. The churros were stuffed with some kind of dulce de leche custard. It kept squirting out but was intensely good. The carob sauce was surprisingly amazing. I remember carob from the 1970s as the horrible chocolate bars that weren’t. This could have been caramel.

Picca was pretty fantastic. They didn’t hit every note perfectly, but it’s a fun (and loud space), the server was very very nice and enthusiastic about the food, and the flavors were bold and powerful, the ingredients first rate. What’s not to love? Unless you prefer crap like el Torito.

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