I know, I know - I've mentioned my newfound love for Spanish cuisine several times already on this blog but ever since my trip to Barcelona back in November, I haven't been able to get the memory of it out of my system. So, this past weekend, instead of doing the responsible thing and finishing up my taxes, I booked the airfare for my triumphant return trip to Spain! I'm going in mid-April (3 short weeks from now!) from 4/13 - 4/29 and so far, the plan is to hit San Sebastian, Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada (maybe) and end up in Lisbon. If anyone has any recommendations for any restaurants/activities in any of these cities, please funnel them to me. :)
On to the food... in an effort to 1) try out a place that has been gushed over by foodies from all over and 2) whet my appetite for all the spanish goodies I'll soon be consuming, I headed over to Degustation on tuesday night.
The Decor: (9/10)
What a gorgeous dining room... when we walked in, we mistakenly walked into Jewel Bako (pictured on the right) since it shares a space with Degustation (the two restaurants are literally right next to each other, separated by a hallway). On a tuesday night around 7, the place wasn't really that busy - there were probably 5-6 other diners there with us that night so it felt like we had the undiluted attention of all three of the chefs standing behind the counter including the young, infinitely talented and unbelievably (and quite distractingly) good-looking Chef Wesley Genovart. It's really remarkable that he's turning out such interesting food and running a critically acclaimed restaurant at the tender age of 27 (I can't believe I'm turning 25 next month... I think I seriously need to pick up the pace!) I really love the whole concept of eating at a counter and watching all the culinary magic happening in front of you. My only gripe with the dining space was that it felt a bit stuffy but that might have been due to the time we were dining and a less than bustling dining room.
Slowly Poached Egg with jamón serrano, chorizo, smoked cheese and rice cracker crusted asparagus
This is going right on my list as one of my favorite comfort food dishes. The texture of the slowly poached egg (courtesy of the increasingly popular sous-vide method of cooking) is incomparable to that of an egg cooked by any other method - silky smooth, creamy and jiggly all at the same time. The rice cracker crusted asparagus had great flavor and was meant to be dipped into all the lovely, dribbly egg. I think the jamon serrano really brought a great dimension to the dish. Ultimate takeaway: this dish gave me the first hint of the chef's deep love of spanish flavors and inventiveness.
Corn and onion croquetas with saffron aioli
I love croquetas and these were four perfect representations of their kind - all beautifully crispy on the outside and creamy and soft inside. The saffron aioli was delicious and complemented the sweet corn innards as well as being a great visual accent.
Seared scallops, fried artichokes, vegetables in jamon serrano jus
I don't normally like scallops all that much but this dish has gone a long way in changing my mind about them. We ordered this to try out the fried artichokes and we weren't disappointed. The scallops were delicately sweet, had a deliciously seared flavor and nearly melted in our mouths. The fried artichoke was just as wonderful as I remembered it being (I discovered and ordered them way too often in Barcelona) and acted as a nice, crispy, salty counterpoint. I don't think the vegetables really contributed much to the dish overall but sneaking some into your diet is a good thing, right? (just kidding - I make it a point to eat plenty of veggies)
Squid stuffed with braised short ribs and lentils
Another signature Degustation dish - grilled squid stuffed with braised short ribs and lentils? What kind of wacky combination is that? Miraculously, this is a winning combo. The short rib was so tender and the squid was perfectly grilled so the combination of the two resulted in an explosion of flavor and soft textures. The lentils lent a really earthy quality to the dish though the bits of chorizo sprinkled throughout made them way too salty.
Crispy sweetbreads + cucumber dill greek yogurt with chilies
Wow, I had no idea sweetbreads could be so good... I foresee a mass tasting of them coming up. The sweetbreads were really delicately fried so the texture was perfect and the pretty green cucumber dill greek yogurt sauce drizzled all over the plate gave them a cool, refreshing taste.
Ribeye with a red onion marmalade, molasses and bone marrow foam
I have to say this really isn't the prettiest dish I've ever seen but it was seriously good. The meat was barely cooked and so tender it was remarkable. The bone marrow foam was an interesting touch - apparently the chef loves the flavor of bone marrow but finds the texture disgusting thus the incorporation into foam form. The foam combined with a really tasty red onion marmalade and molasses equated to seriously good flavor.
Apple Tart Tatin with greek yogurt
The dessert portion of the menu was limited to the apple tart tatin and a cheese plate. With my notorious sweet tooth, I opted for the ooey, gooey goodness of the apple tart tatin. This was a really nice ending to the meal though not overly exciting.
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