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  1. I was a bit surprised to see that there were no posts on this restaurant, as Fabio has historically been a figure that has sparked conversation on DR. My wife and I went last night to a mostly full restaurant that is styled very similarly to Fiola Mare, although this space is much larger than Fabio's place on the Georgetown waterfront. Our first observation is that there are a lot of people working on the floor at Del Mar. Including the 2 women working at the host stand, we interacted with 6 different people in our first 2 minutes after being seated. Some people find this style of service attentive; my wife and I feel smothered. My feeling is that if I haven't even opened my menu, any question other than the type of water that I would like is premature. Especially questions about wine from the sommelier before I have been given a wine list, but I digress. After the service staff dispersed, I delved into the menu, which was organized by rather short sections of 3-5 dishes by different types of raw and cold dishes, hot dishes/appetizers, mains, and plates to be shared. We kicked things off with 6 oysters from New Jersey that were described as "briny and succulent", which is right up my alley. Unfortunately, while the oysters were succulent, I would definitely not describe them as briny, as they were a bit flat and not woken up by the Escabeche Vinaigrette. Another sauce was also delivered with the oysters, described as an "aioli", which was interesting as I have never heard of anyone having a mayo-like dip with oysters. This sounded awful to me, but my curiosity was piqued, so I tried it to make sure I wasn't missing anything with one of my oysters, and it was just as poorly paired and bad as it sounds. I'm assuming the inclusion was a mistake, as I can't imagine anyone liking what I tried last night. Shame on me for not using my better judgment, I guess. From there we went to hot appetizers, where we chose the Sopa de Castana y Cangrejo and the Scallops, Sea Urchin, and Black Truffles. The soup was far and away the best dish of the night, exactly what we were looking for on a cold night. It felt vintage-Trabocchi, very rich and flavorful, extracting flavors from ingredients and appropriate spicing to deliver a rich, well-balanced dish. We wanted seconds. The scallops were also nice, well paired with the vibrant sea urchin, but this would have been a better warm weather dish as it was very cold and very light. For our main, we got the Arroz Negro de Calamares en su Tinta. I should note here that we have had paella and arroz negro many times on trips to Spain and at restaurants in the US. We have had a couple versions that we really liked, but we often feel underwhelmed by these types of dishes. Maybe we don't love paella (or Spanish food in general)? I'm not sure, but I figure that I would point this out before saying that we were massively disappointed in this dish. It came out and was plated well by our waiter into large portions along with a side of lemon and, yet again, aioli. I asked the waiter about the aioli, to see if there was a particular way to eat the arroz with it as I have never seen it presented this way. He said that it was how "everybody" ate the dish, which confused me because I have had paella in Mallorca and Barcelona and have never seen it come with any sort of mayo substance. Is this normal? Again, I took the bait and put a dab of it on the side of my plate, dipping a bit of calamari and black rice in to take a taste. No. I can't believe that "everybody" eats this dish this way, as it became gooey and added nothing to the flavor palate. I ignored it for the rest of the meal, but again I must not be getting it, because I found the arroz to be bland and rather uninteresting, even with a copious amount of lemon squirted on top. Also, the calamari was somehow grilled and very chewy on the outside, but slimy and wet on the inside, combining both ways that I don't like my calamari cooked into one bite somehow. We were starving, but both of us still left a lot on our plates, as this just did not work for us on so many levels. We were a bit disheartened after the arroz negro, so we decided to pass on dessert and get the bill. For 2 glasses of Cava Brut, a middle of the road bottle of Ribeiro ($65), and the food listed above, the bill came to $232 after tax. I had to look twice, as this was more money than we had spent on any meal since our last visit to Komi, and far from extravagant or particularly satisfying food. At this price point, I can't possibly see us coming back here, but again maybe we just don't like this style of cuisine or we could have ordered better (cold crudo on a 40 degree night, yes that's my bad). I'll be interested to see how this place does over the years, as it really is huge, very expensive, and in the hot new high-rent district of DC.
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