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Joselito Casa de Comidas, Spanish Multi-Sized Plates at 7th and Pennsylvania Ave., SE, from Proprietor Javier Candon and Executive Chef David Sierra

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Some friends and I had a wonderful lunch at Joselita today, in the old Sona Creamery and Wine Bar spot around the corner from Eastern Market.  The space is beautiful aesthetically, with a wall full of black and white family photographs in the main room, another covered with posters, a very long sleek bar, and cafe tables and chairs. It has a European feel, as though one had stepped off Capitol Hill and right across the ocean.  

As has been noted in reviews, the menu offers three sizes of portions: tapas size, half size, and full size.  We ordered five tapas portions, two from the "cold" side of the menu and three from the "hot" selections. Our server helpfully pointed out that the hot portions tend to be a little larger than the cold ones of the same size category, which we found generally to be true.  I tried all but the Jamon Iberico de Bellota “Capanegra” - $12/23/45Jabugo hand cut black foot Iberian ham, country bread.  My friends loved this. The "country bread" were very small croutons shaped like itty-bitty baguettes.

My favorite dish was probably Almejas a la sarten - $10/19/39Manila clams, garlic, oloroso sherry. This was a more generous portion than I expected for a tapas serving, filling a decent-sized bowl, and I was glad for every last one of them.  The clam broth was exquisite soaked up with the chunks of wonderful soft and crusty rustic bread that was brought for the table. (I also ate quite a bit of the bread with the plate of excellent salt-, pepper-, and rosemary-accented olive oil that accompanied the bread basket.)

We ordered two types of pork with very different flavor profiles. One was Solomillo de cerdo al whisky con papas fritas - $10/19/39 Iberian pork tenderloin, garlic, cumin, fries. This boasted a winning combination of flavors enhanced by a slightly boozy sauce. Once all was gone, I further cleaned the plate of the sauced bits of onion and garlic remaining.  One friend said that the fries  topping the plate tasted like french fries filled with mashed potatoes, which is a creative description that hits the mark.  

Speaking of mashed potatoes, the other pork tapas dish was Presa Iberica a la plancha - $16/31/naGrilled Iberian pork shoulder, mashed potato. The mashed potatoes were a perfect grilled or griddled mashed potato cake.  There was a flavor to this pork we couldn't pinpoint, almost like maybe a mildly sour flavor. The tenderloin had a more assertive peppery flavor to it, which I think I liked  little more, but both cuts of pork were good.  It seemed odd that shoulder was significantly more expensive than tenderloin for about the same amount of meat, but it reads from the menu that the shoulder might actually be Iberico and the tenderloin something else.  Not sure and I didn't ask.

The other cold tapas that one friend ordered and I had a bit of was Crudo de atún y aguacate con cebolletas y almendras - $9/17/33Tuna carpaccio, avocado mousse, spring onions, almonds.  This was perhaps the smallest portion of all. It was very clean-tasting and fresh, though the avocado mousse didn't seem to have much flavor.  Perhaps it was meant to be a blank canvas against (well, below) the tuna. 

Service was just great. Our server was very attentive and went above and beyond while we fussed over splitting the check.  We agreed that we would order any of the things we tried again. If I were ordering only one kind of pork, I think I would go with the tenderloin, but I would certainly eat the pork shoulder again.

Joselito is a great addition to the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market dining scene. There's nothing else like it around there, and I hope they thrive.

 

 

 

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We had dinner here about a month ago, and also thought it was fantastic. Loved the space. When going back to look at the menu I don't love the fact that their website immediately starts playing music. 

We also enjoyed the tuna carpaccio, although I wouldn't say that it particularly stood out. We did quite enjoy the other cold tapa we had, which was the bacalao with a salmorejo sauce and olive oil dust. The flavors worked well together, and the whole thing reminded me very much of Spain, particularly a meal we had in Cordoba. 

Of the warm tapas, everybody really enjoyed the deep fried anchovies, which had great flavor, and a wonderful yuzu aioli to dip them in. We liked the pork tenderloin quite a bit (and agree that the potatoes were the star of that dish). Our favorite two dishes on the night, however, were the Lima beans with baby cuttlefish and squid ink, and the pasta dish with jumbo crab, sea urchin, caviar and shrimp butter. It was an insanely rich and flavorful dish, and I could have eaten an entire bucket of it. 

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Went here on Saturday with high hopes and left somewhat disappointed.  We were 30 min early for reservation but front of house was really nice and sat us early.  Our waiter could not give two shits about us.  Was really abrupt, no welcoming quality.  To be honest it wasn't the end of the world, and if the food was good I would not have cared much.  We ordered:

Roasted Sardines with Tomato foam and black garlic aioli: this was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.  While the foam had no flavor the sardine was great and so was the aioli

Crawfish and egg:  The sauteed crawfish and placed them atop sunnyside up eggs.  Dish lacked salt and seasoning of any sort.  The primary ingredients were fine and yolk tasted good with the warm bread, but not worth ordering again.

Clams with sherry and garlic:  When I was travelling in spain I had this dish with these thimble sized clams that were amazingly sweet despite just having the tiniest morsel of meat inside.  It was transcendant there-- a simple dish with great ingredients.  This dish lacked flavor--the broth at the bottom was watery and needed to be reduced 

Seasonal vegetables with asparagus juiceand goat cheese:  it should have been a warning sign that the "seasonal vegetables" would have a nonseasonal juice.  But this dish lacked any flavor whatsoever.  I discussed this with the waiter twice after which he removed it from our bill

Lima beans, squid ink and cuttlefish:  This dish was a great stew, needed a little salt, but I enjoyed it

Fried anchovies and citrus aioli:  These were excellent, piping hot, no oiliness.  Well done

Pasta with crab, uni and caviar: this tasted good and definitely had crab in it.  However there was no caviar or uni to be found--at 23 bucks I should be at least able to see some caviar and taste some sweetness of the uni in the sauce

Will not be returning

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I was really excited to try Joselito because the menu had a number of things that are just my favorite things to eat, such as sea urchin pasta and oxtail.

So we started with shaved Iberico ham and Manchego cheese.  I wouldn't say the ham was shaved well, especially since some pieces had clumps of fat.

Next were the fried anchovies.  They were not crispy all the way through, which caused the bones to tickle my throat as I tried to swallow. Not the most pleasant feeling.

The anchovies were followed by grilled Iberico pork shoulder with mash potatos.  The textures were fine but the pork was rather bland and there's simply nothing exciting about this dish

The fifth plate was the sea urchin pasta with crab.  The pasta was not al dente, not sure if it was meant to be soft.  Noticeably lacking was any sea urchin flavor, but there were lots of tasty crab meat.  The whole dish tasted like buttered pasta rather than a seafood dish. 

The last dish was braised oxtail with cinnamon, honey and tempranillo reduction.  The amazing thing about this dish is that the oxtail was served deboned.  How did they manage that?  Again the texture was fine but the addition of cinnamon gave it an odd flavor.  I assume some people love it.

I think Joselito is a fine restaurant but its flavor profile just doesn't match my taste.

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