Jaleo


Cosmopolitan (last visit: September 2012).
Spanish tapas.


Jaleo is part of chef José Andrés' Washington, D.C.-based empire, and the second of his restaurants with that name. His Las Vegas offerings also include
é by José Andrés (a paean to molecular gastronomy) and China Poblano (Chinese and Mexican).



The Menu
There are pages of tapas, so take your time perusing the list. When I went, there were a couple of specials; check with your server. Paella is available, either as a single serving of the daily special, or as one of several available if ordered for six or more people. Lastly, a caveat: while a few of the tapas are small, many are nearly entrée sized.



The Atmosphere
It's a large, open space, brightly lit. There are many hard surfaces, making Jaleo a fairly noisy place; contributing to this is moderate to loud music. All in all, pretty much what you'd expect from a restaurant located in the Cosmopolitan.

I ate at the bar. It seats around 15 people; the full menu is available. The bartenders, dressed all in black, are very friendly; my bartender was glad to discuss not only the drinks, but the menu.




The Food
I asked the bartender whether I should order a couple of items at a time, or everything at once. He suggested I might as well order everything at once; since there were several cooking stations, dishes would tend to appear slowly, over a period of time. That's what I did, and that's what happened. In no particular order, here's what I had:
Ensaladilla rusa con atún en conserva, with optional trout roe. Yeah, this is just glorified potato and tuna salad - but it's really good potato and tuna salad. The chunks of tuna were a lot firmer and moister than Starkist; dollops of flavored mayonnaise were a nice touch; the optional trout roe was tasty. This was one of those
entrée sized tapas.
La Serena con membrillo (La Serena cheese and quince paste cone). Think of this as a tiny ice cream cone (one large or two small bites), filled with a creamy cheese and quince paste. If you're familiar with mango paste, quince paste is very similar - perhaps slightly less sweet with a slight amount of bitterness. I'm not sure why, but I really enjoyed this one.
Fricandó de carilleras de ternera y puré de patatas al aceite de oliva (veal cheeks and morels with olive oil potato purée). Two large chunks of cheeks were soft and rich - just the way veal cheeks should be. Just as rich were the whipped potatoes. I liked this dish a lot, but you have to like meat that is soft and fatty.
Bacalao (salt cod; off menu special). My bartender recommended this dish. It was a special they started serving the night before. The dish consisted of a generous chunk of salt cod. Slightly chewy and salty, I liked both the texture and flavor. Accompanying it was some rich mayonnaise or aioli or some such thing. If this is still available, it's worth ordering.



Summary
The Strip now has two high quality tapas bars: Jaleo and the nearby Julian Serrano. I've only had one meal at each, so it's difficult to say which is best, but I'd give the nod to Jaleo. I enjoyed my dishes slightly more, and the atmosphere is a little more upbeat. However, they're both winners.



The Bill
The meal was about $60, plus drinks, tax and tip. This will vary a lot, depending on what, and how much, you order.


Index of Restaurants