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Oh, Estadio. With your no-reservations-for-parties-fewer-than-6 rule, your crowded bar even on freezing evenings, and your dubious way of sending staff on a blind search to find people when their table is ready. Are you really worth the hassle?

Dining Room

[Photo: Estadio]

First, the good: Estadio has, in what appears to be part of a growing trend (see our post on Blue Duck Tavern), a separate menu just for vegetarians. Sure, it’s a small thing. But especially helpful at places with big menus so we don’t have to sift through long lists of Stuff We Can’t Eat.

Also good were the airy, crispy brussel sprouts, with caramelized onions so sweet they tasted like fruit and pine nuts dusted with smoky pimenton. This was more of a meal in itself rather than a vegetable side dish, and easily the best part of our dinner (besides dessert; see below).

Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts

Let’s move on to pretty good. Butternut squash soup was nice, but I was expecting the addition of vanilla to make it unique and special. Instead, the only burst of flavor came from pimenton (again), this time on pepitas.

Butternut squash soup with vanilla and pepitas

Butternut squash soup with vanilla and pepitas

The same went for mushroom croquettes. Fry balls of mushrooms and cheese and of course they are going to taste good. But there was no depth to them, which could easily come from the addition of some herbs, a more aggressive cheese, or just more earthy mushroom flavor.

Mushroom croquettes

Mushroom croquettes

Blistered shisito peppers with flakes of salt were perfectly cooked and very tasty. Unfortunately there are only so many peppers one can eat, and shared between two people they started to feel monotonous. Best to order these in a group where everyone gets a couple.

Blistered shisito peppers

Blistered shisito peppers

And now to the ugly. On a friend’s recommendation, we ordered the grilled bread with tomato. Eek. Boring and poorly executed. The bread was charred, yet cold and soggy by the time it reached us, and the tomatoes were barely pink and completely flavorless. Sure, I ordered tomatoes in February, but if they’re going to be on the menu then there’s got to be a better plan in place.

Grilled country bread with tomato and manchego

Grilled country bread with tomato and manchego

One more thing I’ll be saying No to: the Slushito frozen cocktail. I took a risk and ordered one with mint, cocoa or coffee or something, and rum. It flat out tasted like toothpaste. I switched straight to wine and didn’t look back, which is a shame because the rest of the cocktail menu looked promising.

Thanks to manchego cheesecake, we ended on a high note. It was more savory than traditional cheesecakes but smooth and rich enough to feel like dessert. Tart quince topping and crunchy pistachios softened the sharp cheese flavor:

Manchego cheesecake

Manchego cheesecake

Overall, I’d say that our visit was worth it because there were a couple of standouts in our meal and we didn’t break the bank. Next time I’d go when not starving, focus on the Verduras section, add some potato/tortilla-type dishes, and skip breads and sandwiches.

1520 14th Street NW
202-319-1404

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