I read the menu, my first reading and visit, with anticipation. It was rich with choices. El Quijote, newly opened in Sperryville’s River District, offers up authentic Spanish cuisine, as in traditional foods from places like Valencia, Cordoba, Andalusia, Segovia and more. In the spacious and well-appointed dining room, murals of flamenco dancers and bullfighters adorn the walls, and faux finished beautiful wooden tables add to the authentic Spanish flavor.
Sharing meals is a Spanish custom: A platter of tossed salad and meats, especially lamb, are placed in the center of the table and everyone plunges in. El Quijote’s style is no different. Ordering an assortment of hot and cold tapas, my friend Doris, a potter at the adjacent River District Arts studio, and I shared a recent Friday afternoon luncheon. Owner Emilio Fontan and head chef Andreas Delgado cook in small but ample batches. It’s difficult to make choices, but sharing eases the pain.
I chose montaditos de morcilla, toast points covered with blood sausage and caramelized onions. I was curious to taste Andreas’ version, maybe because years ago I’d worked in Liesen, Germany, a place of rolling, Rappahannock-like hills and soft mountains, where my Tante Lisbeth taught me how to make various sausages, including blütwurst, the signature meat served to guests at her B&B. Andreas’ version did not disappoint.
Doris ordered the calamares a la Andaluza, traditional fried calamari with aioli sauce. Light and crisp, the squid was tender, juicy and flavorful. Katrina, our enthusiastic and lovely waitress, suggested we try one of her favorites, pate de salmon, a homemade salmon pate over piquillo pepper sauce and toasted bread. Wow.
When Emilio stopped by the table and Doris mentioned how wonderful Katrina was, he smiled and said, without skipping a beat, “Everyone is wonderful here.”
We topped off the meal with dessert and cognac. Flan de Naranja, a traditional crème custard arrived at the table, almost too pretty to eat (but quickly devoured nonetheless). The Spanish cognac was thick and nectar-like, some of the best I’ve ever enjoyed.
Thank you, Emilio, for gracing our hamlet with your amazing restaurant. We’ll be back.
El Quijote is open 11 to 9 Thursday and Sunday, 11 to 10 Friday-Saturday. For reservations and information, call 540-987-8187. And regarding hours of operation, Jim Allmon, River District Arts’ art and marketing director, recently announced similarly expanded hours for the studios and galleries: 11 to 8 Thursday-Friday, 10 to 8 Saturday-Sunday. (Call RDA at 540-987-8770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)