Mar 22, 2011 02:43PM
● By Anonymous
"If you’re looking for another way to appreciate calamari, try the Calamares a la Planca ($7.95), which is zesty marinated calamari pan-seared with onions, garlic, and herbs enhanced with a splash of white wine. A twist of lemon is added for a little spin."
We last visited Jalapenos in August 2009, and I ended my review thankful for the wonderful hospitality we received. I must start this review on the same tone—it’s almost as if we were at home for dinner.
Gonzalo, the owner, had left a few minutes before we arrived and handed the reins to Alberto, who has worked at Jalapenos since it opened 11 years ago. We were spoiled. We decided to eat in the bar area, where the bartender and our server, Giovanni, took good care of us. With Alberto assisting, we were in really good hands.
With a glass of Garnacha La Rocas 2008 ($6), a Spanish wine for my dining companion, Celia, a festive mood came over us. An interesting note for you: The wines “by the glass” change every three months, which I find attractive as it allows for more variety. Of course, the wine cellar itself remains a great source for delicious wine.
When I think of Spain, I think of the Mediterranean—blue, sunny, and warm, sitting on a restaurant’s terrace with gentle background noise and enjoying an array of tasty food. Well, we’re in Annapolis, not Spain, and that’s OK. But it’s winter, it’s 20 degrees outside, so all we have left is Jalapeno’s and its food … so let it warm and cheer us up!
While we typically review a meal from appetizer through dessert, it was time to break those rules and go for tapas. After a superb Sopa de Posole ($4), a traditional soup of corn, hominy, chicken, cilantro, and onions, our appetites were ready for more. The Spanish classics, Croquetas ($6.95), came next, flavorful bechamel rolls in breadcrumbs and egg, and then deep-fried.
We tried the special of the day, an open-faced quesadilla. On the bottom was a homemade black bean tortilla topped with brushed garlic and basil paste, shrimp, fresh basil, a few thin tomato slices, a little melted cheese, and—finally—drizzled with spiced sour cream. How else can we describe it other than “wow!”
Our next dish, the Gambas al Ajillo ($8.95), is one of Gonzalo’s favorites—and I can see why. Shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, herbs, and tomato concasse, then finished with dry sherry; it is very good. If you’re looking for another way to appreciate calamari, try the Calamares a la Planca ($7.95), which is zesty marinated calamari pan-seared with onions, garlic, and herbs enhanced with a splash of white wine. A twist of lemon is added for a little spin.
We weren’t done yet. The Jamon Y Queso ($6.50) was perhaps less exciting than other dishes, but the cured Serrano ham and Manchego cheese dressed with olive oil was stilled appreciated. The La Tortilla Espanola ($6.75) could be considered “blue-collar food,” but let me assure you that isn’t so—this Spanish omelet made of potatoes, eggs, onion, green peppers, and a touch of garlic is very creamy and delicious.
Our last two dishes were the Portabella Champignon ($7.99) and the Ensalada de Camarones Caliente ($9.25). The first was tender portabella mushrooms lightly sautéed in olive oil and laced with a balsamic vinegar sauce. It was garnished with Cabrales blue cheese and pine nuts, making it one of my favorites of the night, with its zingy and scrumptious taste. The latter dish finished off the evening, a mixture of sauteed fresh spinach, pine nuts and shrimp—it was a great way to end the tapas escapade.
To finish on a sweet note, the flan and bread pudding ($5.50 each) were both delectable. Each is homemade and in line with the high quality of the tapas we tried.
New at Jalapenos, there are live performers every Thursday from 8:30–11 p.m. Enjoy the sounds of classic Spanish guitar music or mixed ensemble South American tunes. According to Alberto, the Flamingo seems to be a popular theme. Given the atmosphere, I’m certainly not surprised!
85 Forest Plaza, Annapolis
When to enjoy:
Lunch: Monday to Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday; 4–10pm Sunday 4:00pm - 9:00pm
What to pay:
Wine by glass: $6–6.75
Wine Bottle: $22–98