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I had been looking forward to my trip to Bethesda, MD., for quite some time. For one my friend lives there, and second I had been dying to try a few restaurants. One such restaurant was Jaleo by Jose Andres. I had heard a lot about the delicious tapas dishes at Jaleo and could not wait for the opportunity to go.

On a warm July evening, my friends and I found ourselves seated watching Fifa soccer on tv at Jaleo in Besthsda Row. We all ordered our drinks and my friends focused their attention on the soccer while I focused mine on the menu. I could not help but want to order almost everything on the menu, but I knew I would have to make compromises. My friend ordered a few certain dishes and then I was left to decide on the rest. After we placed our order, we sat back and sipped our delicious drinks.

If you know me then you know I ordered the gin and tonic, served “Jose Andres” style with fresh juniper berries, lemon zest and a cucumber. It was larger than I could have ever imagines. The glass was unbelievably large and the ice cube was inside the large glass was an iceberg. This drink was so good, i ordered six! We were watching soccer and eating delicious food, of course I was going to keep drinking!

The first dish to arrive was the sardines. Deliciously tender and cooked perfectly, these boney little guys were served bursting with garlic and lemon flavour. Really a delicious dish and we all certainly enjoyed them, despite the bones.

My friend then had the cone of salmon roe. She loved it and said it was her favourite dish of the night. I for one loved the plating of this dish but thought they could have made it more than just one cone.

The next thing I knew dishes started flocking to the table. First it was the cheese platter with three cheeses; Manchego cheese paired with compressed apples, an earthy flavoured goat cheese served with apricots and a soft semi-sweet goat milk cheese paired with figs. Of course before I snapped a picture, one piece of cheese got eaten. The cheeses were all delicious and perfectly paired with what they were served with.

The cod fritters were the next to arrive. I fell in love with this dish at a Portuguese restaurant in Montreal, so I knew I wanted to order them here. A plate of six round crispy fritters with a garlic aioli dip was brought to our table. I grabbed one, dipped it into the creamy aioli and took a bite - *sigh! The crispy exterior was not greasy at all, just perfectly flavoured and crisp. The inside fish was flaky and deliciously complimented by the garlicky and citrusy aioli. This dish was so good, everything I hoped it would be. 

We then had the noodle paella with shrimps and squid. A dollop of a creamy garlic aioli was placed in the middle of the dish. I honestly don’t even know if it was an aioli, it was very cream, melted instantly and kind of reminded me of a very differently flavoured Lebanese garlic mayo. I served myself some and made sure to place a small amount of the aioli on my plate. The paella alone without the aioli was amazing, the noodles were not overcooked, the seafood was fresh and delicious, but with the aioli the dish was elevated to a new level of flavour. I really liked this dish and ate a few servings, but then again so did my friends. 

Fried calamari is a favourite of a lot of people. I love it and was excited to find out that one of my dining partners liked it too. When it arrived at the table, we both served ourselves a portion and dipped into the aioli served with it. The tender rings of calamri were perfectly fried and not overcooked or chewy. The calamri was coated in a very light and crisp coating. No greasy mess on this plate, just delicious rings of goodness. My friend wished it was served with a tomato or marinara sauce Italian style, and after a few bites, I found myself agreeing with him. It was enough with the garlic aioli; it was on almost every plate. Nevertheless this dish was still really good and we definitely enjoyed it.

The flat crispy airy bread brushed with fresh tomatoes was the next and final dish placed in front of me. I was so full and could hardly move, but for some reason I saw bread and tomatoes and my hands and mouth started moving again. This bread was definitely crispy, a bit hard to bite through, but the tomatoes were fresh and delicious.

After eating all that yummy food, we sat drinking and digesting. The drinks at Jaleo were truly amazing. I could not get enough of their gin and tonic. I loved it so much that I decided to keep drinking until I could not possibly have another. The sixth one was my cut-off point! We left full and satisfied and a little drunk.

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