I love it when restaurants (or people in general, haha) take advantage of a bad situation and turn it into a great one. Case in point - Chef Mike Isabella's Bandolero restaurant is currently under construction in Georgetown. However, with construction delays, it wasn't going to open any time soon. So what do they do? Use a recently vacated restaurant space in Cleveland Park and create a two-week pop up restaurant so people can preview the Bandolero menu!
Last night N and I checked out the preview ($65/person including tax and gratuity) - here's the menu below:
The first course was the same for everyone:
Guacamole served with salsa pasilla
Sikil Pak - pumpkin seed, jalapeno, orange, cilantro
Chicharrones & chips
Chips and guacamole will always be great in my book - but this Sikil Pak was really something else. Great texture and flavor, definitely different from anything I've eaten with chips before. The orange added a brightness to the dip that I really enjoyed. I could see this being spread on a sandwich or a pita too and being delicious, haha. Oh and the addition of Chicharrones to the basket of chips was a rich and tasty bonus.
Blue Crab Taquitos - coconut, red chile, lime
In addition to the 3 (each) dishes we picked out, the restaurant graciously sent over a few dishes, these taquitos being one of them. These were small and super cute, with fresh crab and radish-based slaw on top that really went well together. I have to ask though - I always though taquitos were rolled up like cigars? Or is that just how other places have done it and that's all I've seen before? Or is taquito also a word for "little taco"? So many questions, haha.
Sopes - Lamb picadillo, chipotle goat cheese, pickled jalapeno
At first these reminded me of little Sloppy Joes, and I guess it's not too far off in terms of the texture of the lamb, haha. I have to say- I am SO glad we ordered these. The sope was crisp and worked as a great base for the meaty topping. I loved the jalapenos, pickled in-house, that added a spot of color and flavor to the dish.
Mahi Mahi Tacos - Basil, avocado, lime
These fish tacos reminded me of fish sticks, but thankfully they tasted much better than regular fish sticks haha. The fish is coated in the crushed tortilla chips which made these super crunchy. The slaw which is not mentioned in the description was red cabbage based and I liked that a lot as well.
Nachos - Crispy goat, white beans, goat cheese, chile de arbol, epazote
This was sort of a last-minute decision when we were deciding which dishes to order - the idea of nachos with goat sounded really interesting and definitely not something you'd see everywhere. The goat was tasty, but my problem with these is the problem I always have with nachos - it's so hard to get the perfect bite with a little bit of everything! Either you get a bite with 50% of the cheese, or just some of the sauce, or in the worst case, a chip off to the side with nothing at all, haha.
Suckling Pig Tacos - apple, habanero mustard
I wasn't really sure how these tacos would be, but turns out I looooooooooooooooooooved them, haha. The combination of the tender pork with the apple slaw on top was delicious. The mustard tasted almost like a honey mustard to me, and not spicy at all considering the "habanero" in the menu.
Mole Negro - short ribs, sesame
I'm not even close to being a mole expert, but this one had a lot of rich flavor and complexity that I think makes it a good mole. You'd have to ask maybe Chef Rick Bayless to really know if it's a "good" mole or not, haha. I prefer fatter cuts of meat and this particular piece seemed a little dry to me, even if it was fork tender.
Enchilada Rojo - Chicken, cascabel chile, mexican chocolate
Alambres - Spiced hanger steak, chimmichurri
The Enchiladas (there were two in the plate) was filled with tender chicken and sauce. For some reason the taste reminded me of a Thai sweet potato soup I had just had for lunch. It's not mentioned on the menu but I wonder if there's any coconut milk in the sauce?
The Alambres was the other gratis dish sent out to us, and they were bites of YUMMMMMMMMMM. I would order multiple orders of these myself. Which isn't too surprising because I love chimmichurri and could put it on anything and it would taste good, haha.
Cookies - Coconut
Coconut Flan - Pineapple, rum
We had initially ordered the Tres Leches Parfait and the Flan when we ordered the rest of our meal, but I guess there was a miscommunication because our server asked again what we'd like for dessert when we were done with our other dishes, and then told us they were out of the Tres Leches Parfait. The Coconut cookies were pretty basic macaroons, and I assume you all know how I feel about these, haha. The Coconut Flan though was not coconut-y at all and therefore I liked it haha.
If anyone is interested in trying out Bandolero during this preview period, you can make reservations through City Eats here. I'm excited to check out the Georgetown location when it's finished!