We had heard many good things about SER which opened earlier this year in the Ballston are of Arlington at 1110 N. Glebe Rd (www.ser-restaurant.com). We arrived and parked underground (there is virtually no street parking) but discovered at departure that with validation, the fee is only a reasonable $2.00! The setting is nice with bright floor to ceiling windows surrounding the whole rom, wooden tables and wooden chairs, that frankly start to be a bit painful after sitting for more than an hour; this is the one thing I would change. Simplicity is the rule in décor and indeed the table only had a tiny vase with one yellow and one white daisy, but I don't dine out for the floral arrangements!
We were warmly greeted by our Ukranian server, Ganna, who was very helpful in explaining the various dishes and many new names. At several points, the owner Javier came over to check on us as well.
Will started with a tasty gazpacho and Sam was also in a soup mood and went for the Chickpea Soup which was tasty and hearty. I ordered the superb Steak Tartare with Santona Anchovies, Organic Quail Egg (which Ganna offered to break tableside) and Piparra (which is the extremely tasty salad of frisee, shaved fennel & greens). The meat needed only a bit of fresh pepper as it was tasty and the small grilled bread slices were just thin enough for the steak.
Our guest had the Lamb Sweetbreads which scared me from the ingredients of Mushrooms, Maple Syrup & Ice Wine. They were superbly fried and not too sweet at all, which I feared, not to mention so tender.
We enjoyed a medium bodied, slightly spicy aftertaste red Bovale 2012 from, Utel Requena that is made from the Boval grape and really is a wonderful wine that goes with so many foods. The wine list is reasonable and fairly nice with many options by the glass as well.
Samuel had come from a big party and ordered only the Patatas Bravas for his main course which are decadent fried potato chunks smothered with a spicy tomato aioli. They need to be eaten quickly as once they cool down, the flavor (as in most fried potatoes) is flat. Main courses were all superb and varied with Tallarines a la Mariscada being a huge portion of pasta loaded with mussels, squid, shrimp, clams and monkfish all bursting with a wonderful zarzuela tomato-based sauce.
Josu's Bacalao al pilpil con Pipirrana was a yummy salted Cod with olive oil emulsion and lots of veggies that suffered only from a tad too much oil. The Carrilleras de Iberico are tasty Braised Pork Cheeks with Rioja, Ginger, Zucchini Pisto(I guess that is Spanish for pesto) and burst with flavor; the cheeks literally feel apart and could be eaten with no knife as Ganna had promised.
We were full but wanted to try one dessert and we chose a superb GOXUA to split three ways. It is a cold layered dessert with strawberries, cream, spong cake, custard and a caramel brulee crunchy top layer that was adorably served in a small jar and was most refreshing after the huge meal. Coffee here is good whether Americano, Cappuccino or Cortado(espresso with dash of milk). We will surely return to SER, but might bring a cushion next time :-)