I’m Tired of Hearing That JULIAN SERRANO Isn’t a Good Restaurant

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It happens every time. As soon as I started live-posting on Facebook and Instagram about a meal I’m having at Julian Serrano, the comments start pouring in:

“Overrated.”

“Phoning it in.”

“Wanted to like it but didn’t.”

“Not a fan.”

These opinions come fast and furious from a fount of foodie friends every time I mention I’m dining there.

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‘e’ by JOSE ANDRES

About two minutes after the photo below was snapped (at Omayel, in D.C. in late April), my conversation with José Andrés proceeded (with a bunch of bear hugs, back slaps and firm handshakes*) as follows:

JA – When you are going to ‘e’?

Me – José, José, José….you know how much I hate tweezer food….and molecular cuisine is soooo 2005, isn’t it?

JA – John, promise me this: Promise me you will go and promise me you go with a closed mind just like you have?

Me – What?

JA – Promise me, John, that you go in expecting to hate it. I want to to expect NOT to like it, so you can see what a wonderful job my team is doing. Will you promise me that?

Me – Huh? Uh…er…okay….I guess. Okay, I’ll go and I’ll keep my mind closed and I’ll expect to hate it and I let your people dazzle me, if they can.

JA – Okay…..then I want your honest opinion of what we are doing there.

Me – Deal.

Then, of course, like a good Greek and Spaniard, we drank on it:

Thus did I become, last week, the 13,326th diner to enter the hallowed door (now in its fifth year of operation) at the back of Jaleo, and take my seat to the 2 1/2 hour, 26 course experience of just about everything I expected to loathe in contemporary, modernist cuisine:

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 33. JALEO

33. JALEO

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The best way to enjoy the wacky Spanish vibe of Jaleo is to dive in and hold on.

Like a traditional tapas restaurant, the joy comes from the blizzard of small plates that will appear at your table, each one seemingly more wonderful than the last. Like the nontraditional food of  José Andrés, you will be occasionally dazzled, occasionally disappointed, but never bored by what shows up at your table.

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