Cleveland Park has a slew of different restaurants. While the Cleveland Park outpost of Tackle Box relatively was short-lived, the space was reconfigured into a new place owned by the same people who run Floriana on 17th Street NW. Pulpo is a Spanish tapas restaurant that offers a variety of small plates and overpriced libations. With two lovely ladies, I tried out the restaurant to see how it measures up to Jaleo, Estadio and Boqueria.
Trio of ceviche and grilled vegetables with romesco sauce.
The ceviches included shrimp, tuna with mango and scallops. The ceviches were bright in flavor with a nice kick of heat from jalapenos. I would recommend this the most out out of all the dishes we tried. The vegetables had a smokey flavor, but the romesco sauce did not add as much of a punch as expected.
Seared tuna with haricot vert, fingerling potatoes and cherry tomatoes with a spicy brava sauce.
I felt the potatoes were slightly undercooked. I would have preferred the potatoes cooked a little more or even roasted to provide a different flavor and textural profile to the dish. The tuna underwhelmed me as well, missing a sear on all sides. Perhaps a slice of lemon could have added a much needed acidity.
Patatas Bravas with aoili sauce.
This was one of the few hot dishes we ordered. Well-executed, this was my second favorite dish.
The signature pulpo (octopus) dish.
The octopus is braised first, then finished on the grill. The octopus was still tender but missing a nice char from the grill, which would have elevated the dish. The potatoes on top of the mustard greens had a banana flavor that confused me at first. In hindsight, we chose too many dishes with potatoes.
Buenelos de Bacala (salt codfish fritters)
The mixture of salt codfish and potato was nicely done, but the fritters had the consistency and texture of a tater to. The aoili sauce paired well with the fritters, and presentation was clean and well-executed. I prefer the versions I've tried at Jaleo and Boqueria.
I think the biggest disappointment was the markup of my selection of wine. I love the crispness of Spanish white wines, especially Albarino. I also know the general price point of this wine, and 2 glasses at $24 when the bottle retails for about $18. On a positive note, the service was good. Our waiter did a nice job of keeping our water glasses refilled, and did a nice job of gauging how much interaction our table wanted with him. Our order of tapas was spaced out well too, avoiding overwhelming our table with too many dishes arriving at once and allowing us to taste and evaluate each at our leisure. One thing I thought was odd, it's Restaurant Week and Pulpo is participating, but our waiter did not mention the special at all.