We were recently treated to an epic feast at Taberna del Alabardero, the most authentic, classy, and exquisite Spanish restaurant in D.C.
Taberna’s deep red walls, classic white tablecloths, gorgeous chandeliers and refined atmosphere leave impressions of lush Spanish sophistication.
Chef Javier Romero – who moved his young family here from Spain just a few of years ago – pays masterful attention to detail, and also provides gracious table-side company. His pride in his work and Taberna is obviously infectious, as the well-trained staff never misses a beat.
Taberna also has a well experienced and discerning sommelier, and he masterfully accompanied each course with a perfect wine pairing.
We started with a course of Cold Green Asparagus Soup in Sherry, Poached Egg and Tuna with Crispy (Pasta Sopa Fria de Esparragos Verdes al Jerez, Huevo Escalfado y Atun con Pasta Crujiente) paired with Cava Conde de Subirats Brut Cava. The light cold soup enlivened the taste buds and prepared us for the wonders to come.
After washing down the soup, we were feted with Bite size Scallops, Purple Potato, Roasted baby Squid and Mango (Bocaditos de Vieira, Patata Violet, Escalivada de Chipiron y Mango) and an Esencia Divina Albarino 2011 D.O. Rìas Baixas. The seafood was prepared perfectly, and the purple potato and mango visually brightened the dish.
Next we tucked into the Marinated Foie Gras Napoleon, Corn and Vegetable Crudite and Liver (Milhoja de Foie Escabechado, Maiz y Crudite de Verduras e Higos), which was paired wth a Valdelainos Verdejo 2012 D.O. Rueda. The Foie Gras was rich, creamy and made us feel like royalty. If you are beginning to think at this point that we were ridiculously spoiled at Taberna, you would be correct!
Then came the Red Snapper in Yellow Pepper Sauce with Seafood crumbs and Cherries (Pargo en Salsa de Pimientos Amarilos con Migas de Mariscos y Cerezas), paired with a Viña Ardanza Reserva 2004 D.O. Rioja Tempranillo, one of my favorite wines of the evening. This dish was a delightful surprise in that it falls outside of the range of items I would normally order, but it was well balanced, delicious, and revealed Chef Javier’s precision and depth.
After a taste of the sea, it was time to return to land with a staple of the Spanish kitchen, Suckling Pig in Garlic-Pickled Pepper Sauce, Sauteed Potatoes and an unexpected twist of Sweetbreads (Cochinillo en Salsa de Piparra al Ajillo, con Patatas Estofadas y Mollejas)! It was paired with a 2009 Tempranillo D.O. Ribera del Duero, another of my two favorite wines of the evening. Savory perfection!
At this point we were slowing down, our taste buds having been lavished over and over by an extraordinary mélange of flavors and textures. Yet Chef Javier had another trick up his sleeve, sending a welcome plate of Cheese, herbs and Flowers in a Purple Cotton Candy and Thyme Ice Cream (Quesos, Hierbas y Flores entre Algodones de Violeta) and an East India Solera D.O. Xerez -Sherry –Jerez. In lesser hands the cotton candy could fall apart, but here it was playful, perfect and left us in awe at our good fortune.
Finally, we finished off the nearly three-hour celebration with Chocolate Trunk, Berries, and Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream (Tronco de Chocolate, Frutos Rojos y Helado de Chocolate Picante) and a Flare Semi-Seco NV. Sparkling Muscat D.O. Valencia. The dessert was excellent and the Muscat played a starring role. It was properly sweet but did not drift into over-sweetness, as is easy for desert wines to do – and capped off the entire experience like a dramatic ending to an excellent play.
Taberna is one of those classic spots that D.C. should be (and is) proud to have. If you’ve never dined there, or haven’t been for awhile, Chef Javier’s arrival provides a perfect excuse to rediscover it. And if you are a regular at Taberna, well then you already know what I’m talking about!
Photos by Lauren DeSantis, Emily Clack and Kristen Finn