Watch out Orlando, another award-winning chef has arrived, and his name is Chef José Andrés.
Last night, Chef Andrés told a large crowd that gathered in front of the stairwell of his massive two-story Jaleo (pronounced Huh-LAY-oh) restaurant that bringing a restaurant to Florida was 25+ years in the making. Touted to showcase the diversity of Spanish cuisine, Chef Andrés brings that and more to Jaleo's newest location at Disney Spring's West Side. Follow along for my review of the dishes served at the private event.
Most of the dishes are tapas that are meant to be shared. One of my absolute favorites was Croquetas de pollo. They are traditional Spanish fritters which consists of chicken that is mixed with béchamel sauce and other delicious ingredients deep fried. A must get.
Next are the Acetones modernas y classics/Modern and Classic Olives. Described as 'Ferran Adrià' liquid olives and gordal olives stuffed with piquillo pepper and anchovy, they are scrumptious. The modern olives are a gastronomic piece of art as they are real olives that have been almost jellied and filled with delicious olive flavorings.
José's Taco is Iberic de bellota (sliced acorn fed pork) topped with Supreme caviar. The slices of pork melt in your mouth and the caviar adds a nice little bit of liquid to it. You can get the slices of Ibérico by itself that is sliced before you tableside.
Salmon con purée de manzanas are little cones stuffed of salmon and apple purée. Nice little bite size morsels which have a nice balance of salty and sweet.
Endevis con queso de cabra y naranjas were endives, with a goat cheese, orange and almonds mix. Great meatless addition.
Fried squid was also one of my favorites, but my wife, Annie, was not as pleased as me with the dish. It's served with black squid ink sauce inside a piece of crispy bread.
Now onto the paellas, a season rice dish filled with veggies, meat or seafood. Jaleo serves two out of five traditional Valencian paellas (darker, denser and smokier rice than typical fluffy yellow rice) each night. It is recommended that you call ahead of time to see which ones they are serving. You can also call a day ahead to order one in particular.
The paellas are cooked in view on top of large pans toward the back. We were served the seafood and the vegetarian paella. According to Annie, the vegetable paella was amazing, and her favorite dish of the night. I thoroughly enjoyed my seafood paella stuffed with squid and shrimp.
Onto some tasty desserts:
Flan is a classic Spanish custard with 'spume' of Catalan cream and oranges. Light and delicious. A favorite out of the desserts.
Pan con chocolate is a chocolate custard with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream. A very good dish as well.
Lastly, was a mix of what seemed to be strawberry and vanilla ice cream/sherbet. A very sweet ice frozen dessert that was pleasing.
Save the best for last, drinks:
The red (roja) Sangria was our favorite. The sangria mix is served out of a tap and garnished with berries and a sprig of mint. Quite refreshing.
Brandy Aroma Therapy was a nicely mixed drink consisting of Torres 15 Brandy, Yzaguirre Vermouth, Fever Tree Club Soda, lemon and lavender bitters.
A nice light drink was the Mediterranean Gin & Tonic. It had Gin Mare, Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, lemon, lime and garnished with thyme.
Spanish beer and wine are available. A full liquor bar is also available.
Overall, I had high expectations coming in here, and Andrés met them all. It's no wonder why Andrés has multiple Jaleo locations because many of his dishes are downright delicious. The atmosphere was modern, yet casual and it's a place that I highly recommend visiting.
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