DC has no shortage of the growing list of fine dining restaurants and one of the places that had been on my radar for a while was Xiquet. Opened in 2020 right before the pandemic outbreak, the restaurant by chef Danny Lledó has been getting accolades here and there for his innovative and modern take on traditional Valencian cuisine. While Jun and I had been to casual Spanish restaurants in the area, it was our first time exploring a fine dining format from this wonderful country of rich culinary tradition. When we walked up the stairs to reach the second-floor dining space with kitchen next to it, chef Danny kindly greeted us with a few bits before we were seated. The aroma coming from the kitchen was quite pleasant and our expectations for the dinner began to elevate. Overall, our meal at Xiquet was quite delicious with a few really outstanding dishes and without notable misses.
When we got the welcoming snacks at Xiquet, my wife Jun was pleasantly surprised to see goose barnacles in the aperitivos. It’s not often you see these crustaceans at a restaurant. Another surprise was the assortment of flash cards for each dish, similar to how Atomix had been dazzling diners for years. Each flash card thoughtfully described chef Danny’s inspirations behind the corresponding dish, oftentimes sharing his memory in Valencia. The first dish that came after the aperitivos was fresh scallop from Hokkaido, Japan, accompanied by Ossetra caviar and blood orange that gave refreshing flavor. Even if you are not a vegetarian, you would be won over by a vegetable dish like the wonderfully fire-roasted heirloom squash with romesco. Called rèmol in Valencia, the turbot also beautifully displayed its rich flavor with the help of classic beurre blanc sauce. While Valencia is known for the famous paella, Xiquet’s rice dish was more grounded in the method of Alicante nearby, accompanied by herb-braised rabbit. It was not surprisingly one of my favorite dishes of the night.
According to chef Danny’s flash card, partridge is a fowl widely used in Spanish cuisine, and Xiquet’s version of the dish that came with foie gras and pear was certainly a winner. The savory part of the course ended with a rib-eye and Iberico pork tenderloin; both were delicious but fell slightly short of the bar set by the preceding dishes. The rib-eye inspired by vaca vieja (“old cow”) raised in sustainable manner in Spain was unfortunately sourced from beef nearby in Maryland, and the slightly tough texture made us wonder what the real Spanish version would’ve tasted like. Iberico pork tenderloin and ham would’ve been fine on their own, and Jun questioned whether putting it in the puff pastry to create a Spanish version of Wellington was the smart choice. After all the rich savory dishes, an all-orange roster of desserts (from siphon cake to sorbet) provided a nice break to our palate. We wrapped up our meal with some treats at the bar area below the dining floor.
Getting a reservation at Xiquet (the tasting menu currently costs $220 per person) through Tock is not too challenging as long as you plan a couple of weeks in advance. The restaurant also offers wine pairings (at $200 per person) and has a fairly pricey wine list that skews toward tempranillo-based Spanish wines (although we were lucky to find one of my favorite California producers on the list and ordered a bottle of pinot noir to complement our meal). The small but cozy dining space with minimal décor gives the vibe of a fine dining restaurant without much stuffy atmosphere, making the restaurant a great choice for a date night. At the end of our meal, we were told that chef Danny is working on a new counter-style format that supposedly gives an upgrade from the dining room dishes in a more intimate setting. Jun and I will certainly check out that new format once it materializes; until then, our assessment of Xiquet is a very good restaurant but not quite top echelon yet.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
Address: 2404 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
Reservation via Tock