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Del Mar - Mallorcan-Influenced, Cavernous, Spanish, Fine Dining at the Wharf

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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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I took the kids to the Wharf yesterday for brunch.  Our choices were between Kith & Kin and Del Mar.  In the end, Kith & Kin looked just a tad more interesting (actually, Del Mar looked rather uninteresting, and Kith & Kin was more kids friendly).

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20 hours ago, DPop said:

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.

I can just imagine the eye rolling that this comment will cause (and probably well deserved), but... I was watching the Beat Bobby Flay episode the other day where he and Garces both cook paella.  Now I'm with you in that I've never seen aioli on a paella, but both chefs independently had an aioli component and commented that its part of standard paella.  So while not ubiquitous, apparently its 'a thing.'

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4 hours ago, genericeric said:

I can just imagine the eye rolling that this comment will cause (and probably well deserved), but... I was watching the Beat Bobby Flay episode the other day where he and Garces both cook paella.  Now I'm with you in that I've never seen aioli on a paella, but both chefs independently had an aioli component and commented that its part of standard paella.  So while not ubiquitous, apparently its 'a thing.'

The Rossejat at Jaleo is the only time I've seen aioli on a paella-type dish in the area.

I distinctly remember because I scraped it all off. Ick. Good dish other than that.

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Spaniards love an aioli on just about anything. 

When I studied abroad my host mother made paella once a week and served it with mayo on the side.

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Yes, what was served was most certainly not what Julien described in his post.  This was a small bowl of straight up thick, white mayo.

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For my birthday yesterday, My dear darling (DD) husband planned a day where I didn't have to make a decision which is the very best present ever.  Vermeer, (too many people) followed by lunch at Del Mar (brunch menu) and Pajama Game (enjoyable) where we were in an almost full house.

Del Mar:
3 tapas followed by a main. See below. 

DD started with Las Olas ( $8) which is a mocktail that was quite refreshing and I'd like him to try to replicate it.

In all the food was good and good looking. From the list below, our favorite was the salmon tapas because it was generous, interesting, and tasted really good as created. While beautiful, the escalivada lacks the flavor that the dish should have imported. I was looking for that classic eggplant creaminess and it was lacking. That said, it was the best looking of them all.

Another highlight was Cazuela de Bogovante which did not need the eggs. In fact, eggs detracted from what was otherwise a wonderful dish.

Now for the trite complaint: We asked for a side of bread since gambas tapa did not come with it and that lobster stew had to be sopped up. $3.50.  Not a big deal but for a restaurant to sell a $50 ounce of ham, the least they can do is provide bread with the food that cries for it.

Many dishes served to other diners looked marvelous and the view is very nice. Yet since there are so many choices down there, I am not sure we'll be back any time soon.

Andalusian Gambas al Ajillo
$18
Pink Key West Shrimp, Garlic, Arbol Chile, Parsley
Salmon Ahumado Y Pan De Cristal
$22
Chesapeake Smoked Salmon & Tomato On Crisp Catalan Bread
Escalivada
$16
Catalan-Style Char-Roasted Eggplant, Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes ~ *V
Cazuela de Bogovante
$24
Mallorcan Style Lobster, Charcoal Baked Potatoes, Fried Local Farm Egg
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22 minutes ago, NolaCaine said:

Now for the trite complaint: We asked for a side of bread since gambas tapa did not come with it and that lobster stew had to be sopped up. $3.50.  Not a big deal but for a restaurant to sell a $50 ounce of ham, the least they can do is provide bread with the food that cries for it.

They need to change this. Was the gambas served in clay or porcelain?

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On 11/25/2017 at 8:51 AM, NolaCaine said:

Now for the trite complaint: We asked for a side of bread since gambas tapa did not come with it and that lobster stew had to be sopped up. $3.50.  Not a big deal but for a restaurant to sell a $50 ounce of ham, the least they can do is provide bread with the food that cries for it.

Trite complaint? I would have been furious.

Charging for bread with obvious dunk-able sauces is unforgivable.

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If you enjoy a good gin and tonic, the bar at Del Mar is worth a stop.  Three to chose from off the menu - Bailando (juniper and cucumber), Estrellas (Ginger, lime, cardamom and star anise) and Te Quiero (Lemongrass, rosemary, grapefruit) and at $14, not badly priced for the neighborhood.  The Estrellas brought whole cardamom pods and the anise into a large enough cocktail that I'll need to wait for the next visit to try the Te Quiero.

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we had dinner on friday night with another couple, and my overall impression is that if del mar and kith and kin are any indication, the wharf is poised to become dc's version of the las vegas strip: large, loud, expensive restaurants by big name (at least for dc) chefs that are . . . a bit underwhelming.  i was expecting expensive, but the tapas aren't special enough to justify the cost.  

we started with cocktails, which were all very good, although the menu options overall didn't have me craving a second round after our first set of orders.  my favorite was probably the contigo, a manhattan riff with bourbon, sweet vermouth, and dry sherry.  the nuez rosada was a delicious but unseasonable tikki-style mix of aged rum, almond syrup, braulio, and chocolate bitters; i would have preferred it on a rock rather than over crushed iced.  finally, we had two of the tal vez, an autumnal mix of rye, pumpkin liquer, orange, cherry, which had a nice smokey element.

the menu is somewhat confusing on first read, with many sections (raw bar, cold tapas, hot tapas, salads, etc.) and no real indication on how many dishes are appropriate per person.  after consulting our server, we ended up going with an assortment of small plates and one paella.  (the online menu doesn't seem to have everything that we ordered, so i'm reconstructing as best as i can on some dishes.)  Erizo de Mar (Sea Urchin, Marques De Valduéza Olive Oil, Piment d'Espelette) offered half a dozen or so lobes of beautiful, briny-rich urchin, but i found that the fruity olive oil overpowered the urchin flavor in my first bite.  i was very pleasantly surprised by the brightening crunch of cucumber with razor clams.  bay scallops paired nicely with little dots of sauce, including a bright lemon one.  gambas al ajillo tasted exactly like every decent iteration of the dish you've had before (although it did come with bread without our asking, and i don't believe we were charged for it).  ensalada rusa was like tasty, fancy canned tuna salad; creamy tuna overpowered the other flavors.  our meat-eating friends seemed to enjoy the jamon they ordered.  (i feel like i'm forgetting something else that we ordered, but perhaps that's a fitting reflection of our meal overall.) 

Paella de Pescado y Mariscos (Maine Lobster, Wild Calamari, PEI Mussels, Pink Key West Prawns) was the most delicious and memorable dish of the evening -- high quality seafood, of course, and well seasoned rice -- but expensive at $98 for four smallish servings.  the server did a poor job of distributing the paella into four servings, meaning that the bf got a comically small pile of rice compared to the rest of us.  (luckily for him, i shared my portion.)  i'm sure experience will solve that problem, but it was the sort of little service flub that one wouldn't expect from a restaurant that showcases paella for groups.  (we didn't order any of the large fish dishes, but something being plated tableside at the table behind us smelled unpleasantly fishy, which seemed very weird.)

service was a bit inattentive throughout the meal, from an initial wait to get someone's attention to order food to having the (too large) empty plates cluttering up the table as new dishes were dropped off to repeatedly having to ask for water refills.  at one point, the (very nice and engaging) somm cleared a few of our plates himself because no one else had come by to do it during the course of our rather lengthy conversation about the wine list.  

nothing on the dessert menu sounded exciting, so we opted for the check, which came with dry little cookies from which only one of us took more than a single bite.  i'm glad to have tried del mar, but now that my curiosity is satisfied, i'm unlikely to go back.  (fiola mare easily remains my seafood splurge of choice within this restaurant family.)

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I dined at Del Mar last night.  Most fortunate that someone had recently given me a 100 certificate and the stars aligned as a 3pm Caps game brought me to the district from Annapolis.  The space is very nice and on a frigid Sunday evening they did fill most tables on the 1st floor once.  The food was very good and service was spectacular.  Our server served us the initial portion from most of the tapas we ordered.  The shrimp were great, roasted beet salad was extraordinary,  the eggplant was great and the raw smoked sausage was very good through my wife decline the raw sausage.  Still hungry we shared a grilled Dorade which was expertly deboned tableside.

I'll definitely go back for the outdoor dining experience.  The menu can be approached many ways but I would steer clear of the cheese as we saw another table get one triangle slice for $12  which is close to 200/lb.

Parking is expensive but convenient.

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Headed to a not sold out event at the Anthem on weeknight, I didn't think restaurants at The Wharf would be too crowded. I was wrong. We tried to go to Hank's, but the packed bar and hour-long wait for a table forced us elsewhere. We ended up at Del Mar.

The hostess let us know that they were "fully committed" until 8:15, but that the bar served the full menu. We were able to squeeze in, after having to ask a patron - who had no food or drinks yet - to move over one seat so two of us could sit together. I note the other patron really only because she seemed so put out by the fact that we asked if she was meeting someone, and when she said no, asked her to move. (Possibly related: She was rude to the bar tender and a high maintenance orderer.) Were we out of line to ask her to move one seat over?

We started with cocktails. The Estrellas (Tanqueray n.10, ginger, lime, tonic, star anise and cardamom) and the Sangre del Toro (blood orange and rose infused vodka, pomegranate, spiced syrup, lemon and cava). Both were good, but maybe not the best choice on a cold winter night. I could see myself enjoying either significantly more when consumed outside, on a warm summer evening. My friend found the branded Tanqueray glassware a little tacky, especially at a place with $14 cocktails.
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For food, two of shared (in the order they came out):

Caña de Cabra - Murcia Semi-Soft Goat Cheese ~ Bright, Citrus Notes
Served with quince (I think) paste; thin, perfectly sliced green apples with honey drizzled over them and a thick, sweet (you could see sugar crystals on the top) cracker. I'm not really a cheese person, I mean, I like it, I guess, but I'm not one of those crazy cheese people, so take this as you will, but I really liked this cheese. I think I would have actually preferred this as a dessert course. But as noted above, this was an almost comically small portion of cheese for $12.

Chorizo Iberico - Cured Ibérico Sausage with Smoked Pimentón
I am unapologetic about my love for cured chorizo. This came with garnished with two large green olives and an anchovy. A small piece of light, but crusty bread came with it. I would have eaten more bread, but probably didn't really need it.

Pulpo a la Gallega - Classic Galician Style Octopus, Crushed Potatoes, Spanish Pimenton
The octopus was cooked well, the potatoes were spicier than I expected and the dish was garnished with a very garlicky aioli. The simplicity of this description belies how well the flavors of this dish come together.

Txangurro - Jumbo Lump Crab, Navarran Sweet Red Piquillo Peppers, Sea Urchin Sauce
This dish ended up being our least favorite, not necessarily because there was anything wrong with it, but because it just wasn't as good as everything else we had. I think it needed some contrast, whether acidity - a quick pickle on the piquillo peppers or lemon somewhere - or something crunchy.

Croquetas de Jamón y Trufa - Creamy Fritters filled with Jamón Mangalitsa, Truffle Alioli
I am also unapologetic about my love for croquetas. (I blame the four years I lived in South Florida.) These were perfectly fried balls of mushroom (actually truffle?) bechamel , garnished with a small piece of crisped jamon, truffles and a rich truffle aioli. If I had a complaint about these, it might be that they were too rich, but sharing the portion (three), it seemed manageable.

Service at the bar was excellent, considering the bar tender had other responsibilities that included lighting a cinnamon stick on fire and capturing the smoke in a rocks glass. (The Lunas Rotas, I think...tequila reposado, mezcal, lemon, cinnamon.)

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In the midst of a nor'easter, with the Metro running every 12 minutes and slower above ground, we went to Del Mar and was greeted by a mostly empty restaurant.  I probably would've canceled the reservation but Steve had lost power and he had to eat out.  So we picked out 6 dishes, 3 hot 3 cold, 4 seafood 2 land-based, no veggies and no paella.

I like to say we started with....but all 6 dishes were sent out in short order.  Feeling rushed, I complained to our waiter, who promptly took 2 dishes back to the kitchen.  This happened after I told him to course the dishes out.

So the first 4 dishes were (i) bluefin toro with truffles ($22), (ii) jamon croquetas with truffles ($16), (iii) erizos del mar (sea Urchin, Marques De Valdueza Olive Oil, Piment d'Espelette, caviar, $21), and (iv) foie gras torchon ($24).  All the dishes were terrific, I just wish there's more food.  As noted above, the sea urchin flavor was lost when mixed with caviar and some kind of smoked fish.  The dish tasted good, I just couldn't taste the sea urchin (which isn't the worst thing that can happen in the world).  

So after we polished off the first 4 dishes, they brought back for the second time our (i) crispy monkfish cheeks ($16), and (ii) Fideuá ($30 Mediterranean rouget, lobster, sepia, pasta).  These two were fantastic.  I assume they were newly prepared since the seafood was perfectly executed.  Again, I just wish there was more food.  We usually over order and I was mildly surprised that we hadn't ordered enough food to keep me from being blown away by the wind.

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Enjoyed brunch here this weekend.  Favorite was a Gazpacho Invernal - a tomato / beet soup passion fruit and bay scallops.  They pour the soup for you table side over the scallops, so you can see the scallops before they're hidden in the soup.  

Ham Croquetas and Gambas al ajillo were good, not unlike what you've had at other tapas places.  The Cazuela de Bogovante was a stew with lobster, potatoes and perfectly poached eggs. More potatoes than lobster as you'd expect. It was good, but were selfishly expecting great.  

Save room for dessert.  The churros are fantastic, one order good to share for two.  

Had a nice wine by the glass - a Ganeta (with a tilda) Txakolina.  Crisp and slightly effervescent, from Galicia the server said.  Picked up a bottle the next day at Rodman's.  It's nice to discover something new and then find it later!

Don't get me started on the confusing parking garage at the Wharf - reserved spots for low emission cars, carpools, you have to read a sign before parking anywhere!
 

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On a Sunday evening - early, just before 6 PM - the impressive and cavernous Del Mar was packed, with no tables available, and so we took our chances, walked in, and found room at the bar, where we were offered a drinks menu and a tapas menu. We asked our affable bartender (whom we got to know on a first-name  basis - but I'm not going to mention his first name in this post) about getting the full dinner menu, and promptly received it.

After I washed my hands (in the lovely and spotless restrooms here), my dining partner went to wash hers, and as we both enjoy Gin & Tonics - Del Mar's menu is chock-full of them - I asked our bartender about the $28 Hable de Ti for two ("Talk about You," get it? Ti for two?), and whether there was good reason to order this menacingly priced drink, as opposed to having two of the "regular" G&Ts from the menu - he suggested that if we ordered two of the single drinks, we could try different types.

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In my wisdom, I ordered two of the single drinks, but the exact same one: the Te Quiero ("I Love You," $14) with lemongrass, rosemary, grapefruit, and homemade tonic - made with Tanquery gin, and served in giant Tanqueray goblets, this was a magnificent drink, beautifully conceived, presented, and served from a futuristic-looking infuser.

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After our drinks were poured, I turned towards my companion, and remarked that these were not expensive at all - the goblets were huge, filled to the very top with ice, and after our drinks were poured, there was fully half of our tonic remaining, and nearly one-third of the infused gin left in the infuser (notice all the ingredients in the photo) - when I asked our bartender how many iterations they could extract from one set of these infusions, he told us, 'about four or five,' and that (surprisingly) it didn't take all that long to replace the ingredients - I suppose these are made in pre-prep, and simply placed into the device - still, it's an extraordinary presentation well-worth seeing and ordering.

I finished my glass, and was ready for the rest - then came what can be best described as an "awkward moment": The bartender had taken the gin away, I assumed to keep cool, and after I poured in some more of the tonic, I got his attention, and asked if I could have some more gin. At that precise instant, our bartender realized that I mistakenly assumed that the entire infuser was for us, and made a halting gesture, while reaching for the infuser, and adding some of the gin to my goblet. At *that* precise instant, I realized (due to the bartender's halting gesture) that the rest of that gin wasn't meant for us, and that one pour was all we were supposed to get. After taking a few seconds to compose myself, I said to our bartender, "I'm really sorry, I didn't know that we had been poured the entire drink the first time," he instantly replied, "I know you didn't - that's why I didn't say anything," and all the awkwardness melted away. It certainly wasn't his fault, and I don't think it was mine - it was a monumental miscommunication on a small scale. Here is what I would do if I were Del Mar: Don't put such an extreme amount of ice in the goblet, and don't leave such a large amount of tonic in the decanter - those two things really contributed to my having thought there was more gin to come; given that there wasn't, there was too much ice in this drink, and the large amount of tonic really wasn't necessary (although it certainly doesn't hurt, as it's delicious on its own). This is why I don't wish to mention our wonderful bartender's first name - because he *really* did nothing wrong here, and if you had to point to someone responsible for the communication breakdown, you'd have to point to me. Well, it's a funny anecdote, but none of it matters (other than the recommendation about the amount of ice and tonic) because the drink was just fabulous - and worth the price even without any extra gin. Incidentally, I'd asked how the Hable de Ti (for two) was presented, and it was via an entirely different, but equally impressive, vehicle - it's also a more complex drink, as it's made with brine foam, Cava, etc. - next time I come here, I may have to give this a try, even though I couldn't have been any happier with the Te Quiero.

For our second "awkward moment" of the night, we remained in the drinks department. After we finished our cocktails, I decided to order a bottle of Godello, my favorite white wine from Spain (recall the article "Waiting for Godello" which I wrote for Washingtonian in 2007) - just a couple weeks before we dined at Del Mar, we were in Catalonia (or Catalunya, if you wish), and even in places as cosmopolitain as Barcelona - which is nearly 600 miles away from Godello's native Galicia - Godello was quite difficult to find, which really surprised me. Knowing from first-hand experience that Godello made in oak is more expensive than in stainless steel (and sometimes made just to export to Americans), I purposely ordered the least-expensive Godello on the menu - Godello isn't an expensive wine, and this is one variety that I recommend people order the least-expensive offering they can find, because that possibly means that no oak was used. Hence, I ordered a bottle of 2015 Rafael Palacios "Louro de Bolo" ($56) and to nibble on while we waited on our entree, a classic tapa of Pan con Tomate ($10) - bread with tomato spread. Shortly after ordering, the sommelier arrived, apologized, and said they were out of the Rafael Palacios, but that he had another Godello that was even better. At this point, I expressed my proclivity towards Godellos with no oak, and he assured me that this wine was made without oak, and not only that, but as he was pouring it, he said he'd give it to us for the same price as the Rafael Palacios, which was a truly nice gesture. So instead, we got a bottle of 2015 Avancia "Old Vines" ($70 on the list), and this is where the moment became awkward, although the awkwardness was entirely contained within ourselves. The sommelier put the bottle on ice, walked away, and I turned to my companion and said, "How do you tell a sommelier he's wrong about the wine not being made in oak?" The answer is: You don't; you just enjoy it for what it is. The little sticker on the bottle that says '92 points from Robert Parker' should have been enough to tip off any wine professional that this wine had seen a healthy dose of oak, but then, there's this:

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which explains everything - the gentleman was probably "acting sommelier," and I'm glad I didn't say a word.

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Back to that Pan con Tomate - we had just spent about five days in Spain, and had dined very well. Including some obligatory tapas-hopping in Barcelona, we'd just had Pan con Tomate twice, including once in a Michelin one-star restaurant. With all this fresh on our minds, we both agreed that Del Mar's version was better than any version we had in Spain, and even if two pieces of ficelle topped with some garlicky tomato spread might sound expensive for $10, we also both agreed that the price was commensurate with quality - this was possibly the best Pan con Tomate I've ever eaten (I can't swear to this, as I've been to Spain several times in the past ten years, but I've never had any this good in the United States). Simple and perfect, this bread is every bit as good as it looks (my apologies for the slightly blurred picture, and the lack of perspective in terms of size - they were ample pieces - not mammoth, but ample).

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For comparison, here's an order of Pan con Tomate (5 Euros) we had at a delightful little Bib Gourmand restaurant, Antaviana, in Figueres.

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As an aside, while in Barcelona, the former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, had been arrested in Germany, and was in danger of being extradited back to Spain for trial. Many Catalunyans didn't take kindly to this, and on Sun, Mar 26, we were right in the thick of some pretty intense protests that seemed not-too-far from becoming riots. While walking to dinner, I caught some of the action on my phone:

On to the main event! Del Mar is bringing Las Vegas to DC, in terms of size, atmosphere, and prices, so I wanted to go straight for the jugular, and let the restaurant show at its best. We ordered the Paella de Pescado y Mariscos ($98, serves 2-4) with Maine Lobster, wild calamari, PEI mussels, and tiger prawns, made with Bomba rice, and served with real garlic alioli (although certain purists would argue that Catalan allioli (note the two ls) should never have any egg, there are varying degrees of tolerance for this pressing issue):

Aug 10, 2009 - "Allioli, the Catalan Accompaniment" by Edward Schneider on dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com 

The paella is just the right amount for two people, if that's all they order, and is served tableside - the seafood was fantastic, the portions were generous, the rice was just right (both in quality and ratio), and the alioli (however you want to spell it) hit a home run with me. I barely finished my half, and helped my dining companion finish her lobster (*that* wasn't going to waste), but there was some rice left on her plate that I just couldn't finish - this doesn't look like a huge portion, but it's deceptively rich, the alioli not helping in that department. I got permission from our jovial server to take a picture, and although I said I'd try not to get his face in, he said he didn't mind (I actually did try not to, but failed).

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Overall, there wasn't much more we could have asked from our meal at Del Mar - with tax and tip, the final bill was right around $250, and while expensive, we both felt the meal represented very good value for the money, as it was outstanding in just about all facets - atmosphere, service, and cuisine. Dining here won't come cheap, but it's *easy* to say I'll be back here numerous times, and mean what I say - Del Mar is a wonderful restaurant, and just what The Wharf needs as its anchor.

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Looks like the cocktail was made in a device called The Porthole, which was originally designed for Grant Achatz's experimental cocktail bar, The Aviary. 

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38 minutes ago, Deac said:

Looks like the cocktail was made in a device called The Porthole, which was originally designed for Grant Achatz's experimental cocktail bar, The Aviary. 

Agree it looks like a Porthole. I have one (a wedding gift from 5 years ago) but haven't gotten around to using it yet. I'm thinking about roasted jalapeno-infused tequila at some point. I didn't know it had anything to do with Grant Achatz.

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