By Beth Hawley - 11/17/10 10:16 PM EST
Decorated in rich, dark reds, plush carpeting and pillow draped seating, dining at Taberna Del Alabardero is a bit like dining in a private home. Comfortably spaced tables and dim lighting gives the feel of privacy even in the open dining room with high ceilings.
Their wine list brings a smile to even the most critical connoisseur, offering a variety of quality American and Spanish wines. For a truly authentic Spanish experience, try their sangria. This delightful concoction of spirits and fruit brings a festive flavor and sight to the table.
The menu offers traditional Spanish style dishes with twists of fusion and artful displays. Catering to the meat lover and the vegetarian, Taberna Del Alabardero has a menu to satisfy all tastes.
For starters, try the jamon iberico al corte. Described as “Prosciutto times 10,” this dish isn’t called a Spanish delicacy for nothing. Taken from the meat of pigs fed a diet of acorns, this ham is so thinly sliced it practically melts on the fork.
Cured and aged for 24 months, the ham has a surprisingly subtle flavor, smoky but not overwhelming. jamon iberico al corte is a new arrival to the United States, having won USDA approval just four years ago and is well worth the wait.
The restaurant’s signature dish is their cochinillo asado a baja temperatura con patatas revolconas de las pedroneras, or suckling pig. Roasted for four hours, the meat is skinned and stripped from the bone, shaped, topped with the skin and lightly braised. Served with garlic and paprika potatoes, this pork dish is reminiscent of fried chicken without the grease. Light and moist, it’s a perfect example of Spanish comfort food.
If your tastes run more toward seafood, try their almejas y gambas a la marinera. This clam and shrimp in a garlic, tomato and cayenne pepper sauce is surprisingly light. The sauce can stand alone as a meal. The bisque is deliciously thick and you’ll find yourself soaking up every last drop. The cayenne pepper gives the sauce some heat, but the spice is less powerful because of the garlic. If you choose to go no further than appetizers, this is the dish for you.
Taberna Del Alabardero also offers their pargo con souquet catalan de marisco, langostino a la parrilla y viera (red snapper served with a seafood broth with scallops and grilled langoustines.) Cooked to perfection, the snapper meat was tender and moist. The sauce perfectly complimented the scallops. The langoustines (a small lobster otherwise known as Dublin Bay prawn) had a surprisingly sweet taste to them.
Normally, at this point the waiter will kindly ask you if you’d like to see the dessert menu. Nestled between the flans and the custards is a chocolate extravaganza you simply cannot miss. Chocolates del mundo en texturas con helado al 80 percent de cacao (textured chocolates from the world with 80 percent cocoa ice-cream) is heaven on a plate. Pass the spoons around for this, because there’s a chocolate for everyone. With slivers and dollops representing various countries and their cocoas, this dish runs the gamut of chocolate from white to dark and everywhere in between.
So if you’re walking down 18th Street and happen to glance in the window, head on in. They’ll seat you at a cozy table and entertain your senses while plying you with Spanish culinary treasures you won’t regret trying.