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A grasp DC tapas chef is opening his personal restaurant in Rockville

Rockville’s eating scene is getting a serious enhance this weekend with the arrival of El Mercat Bar De Tapas, a wonderful paella spot from a DC chef with very good Spanish cooking abilities.

Rockville City Middle’s extremely anticipated El Mercat Bar De Tapas comes from George Rodrigues, the previous head chef of famed tapas chain Boqueria in Penn Quarter. His escape mission to I-270 makes use of a contemporary house that housed a short-lived Cajun and Puerto Rican restaurant Gumbo Ya Ya (101 Gibbs Road, Rockville, Maryland).

Preview dinners scheduled for Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22 characteristic a cross-section of the menu, with two seats every night. Tickets ($75 per particular person) embrace vegetable, meat and seafood tapas, paella, dessert and two glasses of crimson, white or seasonal sangria, plus complimentary glowing wine to rejoice the arrival of his long-awaited solo journey.

“It has been a dream of mine to open my very own restaurant since I moved to america,” says Brazilian-born Rodrigues, who has devoted a lot of his 20-year profession to creating tapas below a collection of celeb cooks.

Lamb meatballs with tomato and manchego sauce.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

Mushrooms sautéed with inexperienced onions and garlic.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

The complete menu will go stay on Sunday, January 23, with night dinner-only service for 2 weeks, adopted by lunch.

Its opening checklist of two dozen Spanish tapas oscillates between acquainted dishes (shishito peppers, calamari, ham croquettes, spicy papas bravas) and lesser-known regional specialties like calçots from Catalonia – an extended inexperienced onion that has its personal competition in Spain yearly. At El Mercat, he serves the charred and smoked vegetable alongside a cup of creamy romesco.

Long green onions next to a red romesco sauce on a wooden table.

Calçots at El Mercat Bar De Tapas.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

Different tapas on faucet embrace escalivada (roasted greens with labne yoghurt), pulpo con patatas (calmly cooked octopus and potatoes), pan con tomato with an optionally available addition of anchovies, pollo rostizado (roasted hen) and tortilla española (Spanish omelet) made with egg, potato and onion and cooked in olive oil. Diners can begin the meal with a mixture of Spanish cheeses and meats for $30.

Paella openers play his private favorites (seafood; chorizo ​​and hen; and squid ink sauce with saffron aioli and shrimp), served in 10- or 14-inch round pans. He credit La Boqueria government chef Marc Vidal for serving to him good the communal dish. Vidal, born in Barcelona, ​​who launched the Boqueria model to DC, NYC and Chicago, studied the artwork of paella below Ferran Adria (of El Bulli fame).

“I’m going again to what I discovered with Boqueria – the normal methodology that focuses on the cooking course of,” says Rodrigues, which incorporates beginning and ending the dish within the oven.

Tongs touching a paella cooking on a stove.

The important thing to a Spanish paella, says George Rodrigues, is the of entirety often known as “socarrat,” or the crust that types on the backside of the bomba rice.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

El Mercat chef/owner George Rodrigues poses in his restaurant with a brick wall behind him.

The chef/proprietor of El Mercat, George Rodrigues.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

Earlier than Vidal, Rodrigues labored below different huge names like iron boss Jose Garces at Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago and restaurateur Michael Schlow at Latin-leaning Tico in Boston and DC earlier than becoming a member of Boqueria’s opening staff at Penn Quarter in 2019. Like many cooks, a sudden halt in service through the early days of the pandemic put her culinary profession into perspective.

“All of it occurred so quick – the restaurant was full sooner or later after which needed to shut. It was a scary time. It was additionally a possibility for somebody like me who had by no means had a restaurant earlier than to d ‘go,’ he stated.

Rodrigues lives in Rockville and says up-and-coming eating locations just like the close by Pike & Rose resort present the Maryland suburb is prepared for a classy Spanish spot by itself. La Tasca in Rockville was once the town’s essential tapas recreation, he says, however that place closed completely through the pandemic. He says he discovered a lot to take over the short-lived Gumbo Ya Ya’s 2,000 sq. foot residence in downtown Rockville.

The revamp is stuffed with odes to the Basque nation, together with art work of flamenco dancers on the bar, rustic woodwork, crimson and yellow tones to match the Spanish flag, and European tiles. A marble bar sends out a spread of sangrias, with a wine checklist that features solely Spanish grapes. Desserts embrace Basque Burnt Cheesecake and Churros with Caramel or Chocolate Sauce.

“We needed to carry slightly piece of Spain to the neighborhood, like being transported to a tapas bar in Barcelona – cozy, welcoming and enjoyable,” says Rodrigues.

The 60-seat restaurant will broaden with a 30-seat patio within the spring, and it plans to host paella and Spanish wine courses on-site this yr.

A circular cheesecake sitting in brown paper with a spoon picking up a piece

San Sebastian cheesecake with liquorice sauce.
Rey Lopez/LeadingDC

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