When Danny Lledó competes in a paella competition, he tunes out the cameras and crowds, focusing on the true star of the show — the rice. “There’s everything that you can imagine there to distract you, and you have to perform,” says Lledó, who won an award at the International Valencian Paella Competition.
Blocking out the noise is good practice for Lledó, who will cook in a glass kitchen at his new Glover Park restaurant, Xiquet. The Valencian fine dining spot opens on March 3, above the newly reopened Slate Wine Bar.
At the reservation-only restaurant, guests are first invited to the peach salon for complimentary snacks and a drink. It feels like hanging in your friend’s living room — if you have a friend with a shelf of vintage whiskeys and a hundred bottles of Mediterranean wines.
Charred wood is the secret ingredient in the dishes Lledó serves upstairs in the minimalist dining room. “We wanted to do the whole kitchen with fire,” he says. He’s used to chopping his own wood at paella competitions, but at Xiquet, Lledó imports orangewood from California to toast tomato-topped flatbreads. Spit-roasted suckling pigs turn in a rotisserie over applewood.
Lledo’s family is from Dénia, a Spanish port town brimming with seafood. He celebrates the birthplace through a pan of paella bejeweled with lobster and red prawns. Another decadent version marries roasted duck and foie with shaved black truffles.
In addition to a la carte options, the restaurant offers a $90 five course menu or a $130 eight course menu.
Xiquet. 2404 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Open Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM; Friday through Saturday 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM.