Foosball tables, croquetas served on a shoe, private nooks for lovers on a date and beaded curtains that evoke scenes of a Pedro Almodóvar film are just some of the many changes at the new Jaleo. Having originally opened in 1993, José Andrés' Penn Quarter Spanish restaurant closed at the end of February and pursued an aggressive month-long timeline to open to the public yesterday with limited reservations.
Although the contours of the dining room and bar are still intact, the refurbished interior is indeed a dramatic change from the old Jaleo. Andrés enlisted Barcelona-based designer and architect Juli Capella to help him further express the idea of "jaleo," which means "uproar, merrymaking and revelry" in Spanish. Expressing this message are the bright orange hues that pop throughout the restaurant, as well as the art installations behind the bar and on both ends of the restaurant that brighten the space. Oh and there are also two foosball dining tables that seat six.
The food and drink menus also experienced a face-lift. Head chef Ramon Martinez says the menu underwent a 20 percent change. The newest pieces are three large plates, comprising dishes that highlight meat from the famed black-footed pigs of Spain. Spanish mini-burgers, sauteed vegetables with quail eggs and oysters with gin and tonic are also additions.
Speaking of gin and tonics, patrons can now share Andrés' love of these high-balls as the cocktail menu offers six types. Head bartender Owen Thompson has concocted grapefruit and pickled ginger varieties, among others.