Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Slate Wine Bar and Xiquet DL offer at-home wine tastings and cooking classes

Chef Danny Lledó has found a new way to interact with customers through hands-online classes

Slate Wine Bar, Xiquet DL, Danny Lledó

Lobster Paella — Photo: Jeny Benitez

Danny Lledó was eager to show off his newest baby — his second restaurant, Xiquet DL, above a revamped Slate Wine Bar in Glover Park. “I just finished a nine-month renovation,” Lledó says. “We made everything really beautiful to have people come and enjoy the experience of a complete woodfire kitchen [and] Valencian cuisine.” Yet almost as soon as the chef and his team were ready to open in March, everything began to shut down.

“We had a lot of excitement on the opening,” he says. “And then in the second week we were getting as many new reservations as we were cancellations: ‘Oh, we made a reservation two days ago, but based on the news, it seems like we should be staying at home.'”

Lledó has been with Slate since 2013, having gradually worked his way up from part-owner to full proprietor. He characterizes Slate as “your neighborhood wine bar, more focused on small bites, small plates, and more of a Mediterranean and American flair.”

A year ago, he decided to convert its second-floor office and storage space into a restaurant with a narrower, more refined focus on the cuisine of Valencia, the region of Spain where his father was born and raised.

Yet what Slate and Xiquet currently offer strays from what Lledó had planned. “We keep trying to update our menus online to make things fun. There’s two salads. There’s a whole vegetable platter. There’s cheese and charcuterie, plus all our woodfire items from duck, chicken, lamb, steak. There’s something there for everybody.

He says the pandemic, “in some ways is creating an opportunity to be a little more diverse.” Case in point: After getting an abundance of requests for paella, Lledó took to offering classes through Zoom — one a paella cooking series on select Wednesdays, the other wine tastings on Thursdays. “We do all the prep work for them, so they don’t have to go home and cut chicken or portion out vegetables to the right sizes,” Lledó says. The wine classes, meanwhile, come with four bottles of wine.

Danny Lledo Paella Kit

“Both classes are very interactive,” Lledó says. “When we’ve had wine tastings at Slate before, people wouldn’t ask as many questions. Through Zoom, there’s really a good opportunity to be a little bit more educational and informative. And I think people are used to it with their own meetings on Zoom. Now they get to do something fun.”

Lledó sees the Zoom offerings continuing well into the future — after the time when restaurants can legally reopen for dining, and at least until he’s able to operate with a 20-person staff for both restaurants, up from the current skeleton crew of five. “Until we get an overall vaccine and people feel one hundred percent comfortable,” he says, “carryout and delivery and classes are here to stay.”

Upcoming Cooking Classes include Seafood Paella on Wednesday, May 20, Duck & Chicken Paella on Wednesday, May 27, and a Master Class of Valencian Paella on Wednesday, June 3. Classes start at 6 p.m. Cost is $35 per person per class and includes fully prepped ingredients from Xiquet’s retail market.

Upcoming #SommNights include an Argentine Wine Tasting on Thursday, May 21, and Spanish Atlantic Wine Tasting on Thursday, May 28. Classes start at 6 p.m. Cost is $85 to $120 and include four bottles of wine.

Slate Wine Bar and Xiquet are at 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-913-4671 or visit www.slatewinebar.com or www.xiquetdl.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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