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José Andrés' Minibar


John W.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am still reeling from my experience at the minibar Friday night. Truly awesome meal!! WOW. Honestly, I'm a pretty verbose person, and two days later I'm still without many words. I thought 90% of the dishes were dead-on, and some I'm still drooling over (especially the cotton candy foie gras, the lobster americane, the foie gras soup, the caesar salad..the mini mojito--god I nearly shoved that thing my purse!)...It made me think about food a whole new way, and now I'm creating little injections and raviolis and airs in my head...

Just trying to figure out how soon is reasonable (for my budget) to go back! :biggrin:

(I'm sure my dining partners liamdc and mazman will add their two cents soon)

Edited by sara (log)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I am still reeling from my experience at the minibar Friday night. Truly awesome meal!! WOW. Honestly, I'm a pretty verbose person, and two days later I'm still without many words. I thought 90% of the dishes were dead-on, and some I'm still drooling over (especially the cotton candy foie gras, the lobster americane, the foie gras soup, the caesar salad..the mini mojito--god I nearly shoved that thing my purse!)...It made me think about food a whole new way, and now I'm creating little injections and raviolis and airs in my head...

(I'm sure my dining partners liamdc and mazman will add their two cents soon)

To say that Minibar was a unique dining experience undercuts how fantastic it actually was. The combination of tastes and textures along with descriptions with the chef & his assistants as well as answers to our frequent questions made it one of the most challenging, interesting, and enjoyable dining experiences I have ever had. To those that haven't been, the concept may strike one as a bit hokey, but you get over that once you're eating! The pace of the meal was quite pleasurable, with small breaks in between preparations of new courses. Chef Kats & his two assistants were a pleasure...

Notes about our meal ... the meal "stars" for me included: the spray mojito, anchovy mousse ravioli, the jicama wrap w/ apples & cabrales blue cheese, the watermelon w/ balsamic & trout roe, the mango soup w/ pop rocks, and the pina colada. The two dishes I thought went best in succession were the cotton candy foie gras followed by the conch fritter w/ a liquid center. We had the Uruguayan viognier with our food course. It accompanied the food quite nicely.

¡Vaya! ¡Vaya! ¡Vaya!

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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I went to Minibar on Saturday night, and was surprised to see Jose working behind the bar, as well as Kats and two other guys. They all seemed frantic. I asked Jose if he's normally back there, and he said no, it was because they had accepted too many reservations for that night. He said that he only wants to have 12 guest per evening--2 seatings. But that night they had 3 seatings, plus an extra table of 4 which was being served the minibar food, for a total of 22 people. Not sure if the table of 4 were friends or VIPs of some sort, but I can't imagine it would have been nearly as much fun sitting at a table instead of the bar. After the 4-top left, Jose disappeared and Kats and his assistants seemed more relaxed.

The entire meal exceeded our expectations in every respect. The only notably missing course was the spray mojito, though I didn't realize it until after the meal. I believe the one new course that has not been previously mentioned here is the "corn on the cobb." It was a little baby corn on the cobb, intensely flavorful.

I asked lots of questions about the ingredients and preparation techniques and the guys were very willing to answer all of my questions. Maybe they get annoyed with the questions night after night--must feel like a cooking class at times. At the end of the meal (after the chocolate corn nuts and before the bill-in-the-egg), each guest was given the menu to take home. It's printed on transparent plastic, like for an overhead projector.

As fantastic as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if they call it quits with Minibar after a year or less. I can imagine that Kats & crew could very easily get burnt out with the routine.

Melani Spiegel
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A lot has been covered already, but I thought this was a really cool eating experience. I also met Woodlygrrl, who brought some friends, so it turned into e-gullet bring your friends to the Minibar night!

Here's the menu, although the dishes are presented in a somewhat different order:

Things started off with a small bowl of chicken curry flavored popcorn. Then a small spritzer bottle with mojitos. Next came the flights. Each dish was about one bite.

Cones (Think mini ice cream cones)

with tomato and basil

trout roe and cream cheese

Jicama Rolls

with salmon and orange powder

with tomato and altoids

Jicama Wraps

tuna, sesame and soy gelatin

apples and cabarales blue cheese

ceasar salad (deconstructed)

Raviolis

Ravioli of Mango (the "pasta" is thinly sliced mango)

with anchovy mousee

with avocado and tabassco oil

Ravioli of Jicama

with guacamole

with tuna ceviche

Ravioli of Pineapple

with cured salmon and crispy quinoa

with trout roe

Sandia Flight

This was 4 squares of watermelon, hollowed out and each with a different filling

with balsamic and olive oil

with tomato seeds

with balsamic and trout roe

with parmesan

Injection

These were foods that came with a small squeeze tube with which you injected liquids in to your mouth

tomato with mozzarella soup and basil (a poached cherry tomato with a tube of liquid mozzarella and basil. pop the tomato in your mouth and then squeeze the liquid in after)

lobster americaine

Hudson Valley Foie Gras

foie gras on a stick wrapped in cotton candy

cold and hot foie gras and corn

chocolate truffle, foie gras and tamarindo

Next came the series of one off dishes and this is when the meal really took off

Corn on the cob: baby corn, with a corn puree, and corn shoots

Wild pink scallop with frozen mango soup

Sardine in a crust of bread

Conch fritters with a liquid center

Potato mousse with American caviar and vanilla

Tuna with a rice mousee, crispy rice and soy sauce

Guacamole with tomato sorbet

Deconstructed New England clam chowder

Meat and Potates, potato mousse with lamb and a truffle scented napkin!

Mango soup with pop rocks

Pina Colada

Some of the winners: Foie gras and cotton candy, the injections, conch fritters, potato mousse with caviar, deconstructed clam chowder, meat and potatoes.

Minibar isn't going to be for everyone, but if you like to think outside the box and play with food on different conceptional levels, this is the place for you.

The cost is $65 but for some reason there were a couple supplemental charges and we bought a bottle of wine ($32)...I think all told it came to about $100 each.

btw, the young chef, Ed, who is pictured above, was serving us, he's 22! and seemed to be get a kick out of being a minor celebrity on the e-gullet board. He laughed when I said "Hey you're the dude from Ohio who followed Jose to DC"

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I was searching for Baltimore recs and came across this thread, so I decided to check out the minibar. Wow, what a cool experience. It was the perfect place to eat if you have to go solo. The 2 chefs, Ed and Joshua, were very friendly and seemed extremely passionate about what they're doing. Some of my favorites were the chocolate truffle with foie gras and tamarind, tuna with rice mousse and rice krispies, conch fritter, clam chowder, potato mousse with vanilla and caviar, and pina colada. The only dishes that didn't work for me were the ones with trout roe...they were extremely salty (and I'm a salt freak). Maybe I just don't like trout roe. It's amazing how many dishes were that good out of the 34 little courses. Since I don't know much about wine, I had the Viognier that others mentioned, and it paired well with almost all the dishes. Like another member said, it's not something I could do all the time, but it was a truly unique experience with interesting (and very good) food.

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  • 1 month later...

I have the opportunity to go to MiniBar next month (the reservation will be made tomorrow). After reading the thread I was curious to find out what they are doing in the winter. Has anyone been lately?

I am considering postponing until this summer because tomatos seem like such an important part of the experience and it is hard to find good tomatos in the middle of February.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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We went in November -- not that recently but well after tomato season -- and noticed that the tomato courses seemed surprisingly tasty given the season.

If I have any wisdom to add to what has been written already, I would say

1) I think the food succeeds better as an intelligent, fun, meal than as an epochal revision of the dining experience -- I'm not buying "foams" and "airs" as the wave of the future, but I had a great time.

2) The best wine we had to drink with the food all night was the New Mexican sparkling wine they offer. Everything else was too heavy for the food.

Have fun!

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally made it myself last night and had a good time.

I'd say about 75% of the dishes worked for me, which is a pretty good percentage considering everything they are trying to pull off. I loved the "Guacamole" with tomato sorbet; the Mojito in a mister; the "New England Clam Chowder"; the "Meat and Potatoes" (the dish with the Truffled Tissue); the Mango Soup with Pop Rocks; the Conch Fritter; the Caesar salad; and I even liked the Foie Gras with Cotton Candy (maybe the first Foie Gras I truly liked).

Other items like the Watermelon Air (watermelon juice whipped into a froth) or the Sea Urchin with Pomegranite Foam didn't do it for me, but other people at the bar seemed to really like those.

The "wraps" and "raviolis" worked the first time or two, but the dishes that stood out were the ones that were creative on their own, not just because they were little bites wrapped in something unusual. (although the guacamole that is in one of the wraps is about the best avacado product I have ever put in my mouth.)

All in all it was fun and I would recommend it, but not to everybody. Only someone who looks at food as fun would "get it". I thought through all of my friends (aside from my imaginary friends here on eGullet) and I couldn't picture any of them sitting next to me there and enjoying themselves the way I did.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Oddly enough, I actually had a dream about the MiniBar last night. I was at a restaurant (not Atlantico apparently), and I was handed a plate with different colored glazes on it, and each glaze tasted like a dish I had at the Minibar. Especially memorable were the potato shot, the cotton candy foie gras, the guacamole, the ravioli...I could actually conjure the tastes in my dream. Unfortunately, the other guests at the table didn't like this plate presentation, and smeared the glazes together and put their plates aside!! (and I was yelling No Stop!) :biggrin: Anyways, my point is, I have NEVER had a dream about a meal after the fact, especially months later, and yet, the Minibar experience has stuck with me. I can't wait til they change the menu up and I'll go again.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Does anyone know how long the wait is for available seats for 2 at the minibar. I want to do it again and a friend of mine, with much trepidation, is willing to go out on a limb and see if she likes it.

Is the next opening 3 months away or something?

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I've been wanting to do this for months, but all my adventurous friends are all poor, and the non-adventurous ones are...

um, dearly beloved.

but not people I want to sit next to for two hours while I'm trying to focus on exploding food.

any other eGulleters in the same situation and want to share an outing to the minibar with me??

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Is it just me, or does it sound like the minibar's menu hasn't changed very much in four months. Are they still serving tomatoes in February? I'd like to see a little more seasonal focus.

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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Does anyone know how long the wait is for available seats for 2 at the minibar. I want to do it again and a friend of mine, with much trepidation, is willing to go out on a limb and see if she likes it.

Is the next opening 3 months away or something?

I tried to get resis with a weeks notice recently (I know better, but like to gamble)and they said I would have done better calling two weeks ahead...or three if it's for Saturday night.

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Is it just me, or does it sound like the minibar's menu hasn't changed very much in four months. Are they still serving tomatoes in February? I'd like to see a little more seasonal focus.

THey say that it "evolves". THey said that if everything changed at once they would have chaos on their hands in trying to maintin consistent prparations with all the dishes.

There are a few changes. Instead of watermelon cubes in one flight they ised pears. There were only four tomato items I can remember *it is all a blur). One used a seed pocket from a Roma tomato. Another used small diced, again, probably from a roma. One of the injections used a cherry tomato (blanched and skinned). And the final one was the sorbet. I don't think any of these really required height-of-the-summer freshness to work.

Another new dish I had not seen anyone mention was Egg 147. An egg poached at 147 degrees for a half hour, craked in a small bowl with (if I remember correctly) black truffles and powdered sugar. Sounds wierd but it did work.

Bill Russell

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Does anyone know how long the wait is for available seats for 2 at the minibar. I want to do it again and a friend of mine, with much trepidation, is willing to go out on a limb and see if she likes it.

Is the next opening 3 months away or something?

I made my reservation for tonight one a week ago and then yesterday was able to move it to last night. Don't know about for two though.

Bill Russell

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I am going next Friday and made reservations a month in advance. (That's the earliest they will accept them.) I've talked with others who were able to get a reservation for two during the week with just a few days notice, but I imagine on the weekends they book pretty quickly.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I'd like to try the mini-bar with my wife, but she's a vegetarian. With the menu as-is, she wouldn't enjoy it (although I would, eating all her non-veg items). Given the format, would they entertain the idea of creating an all vegetarian friendly meal? Would it help if both of us went the vegetarian meal route, instead of just one?

FWIW, cheese and eggs are ok, although no roe or caviar.

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I'd like to try the mini-bar with my wife, but she's a vegetarian. With the menu as-is, she wouldn't enjoy it (although I would, eating all her non-veg items). Given the format, would they entertain the idea of creating an all vegetarian friendly meal? Would it help if both of us went the vegetarian meal route, instead of just one?

FWIW, cheese and eggs are ok, although no roe or caviar.

I doubt that they would be able to do that. There is so much coordination, with everyone at the bar being served the same things at the same time. The mini-bartender was telling me that that is the reason they phase new dishes in so slowly.

Bill Russell

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yippee!!

Two of us are headed to the Minibar on Tuesday evening, 8 pm. They still have room for that seating, so if anyone else has given up on their beloved impoverished/vegetarian/greasyspoon dining friends, you're welcome to join us.

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Preparing special vegetarian only menus is more of a rarity than I think most people realize. Many restaurants accommodate this. But I strongly believe that the menu they are served is simply not on the level of their non vegetarian companion. In truth, how can it be? Preparing a menu for 15 or 20 or 30 or 100 is one thing. Preparing a menu for one is another matter.

My guess is that a restaurant such as Heritage of India would have a more complete and successful menu for a vegetarian than almost any restaurant in D. C.

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this is sorta off-topic from the minibar, but I'd respectfully disagree. In a very good restaurant, I've often called ahead to ask if its possible to get a good vegetarian dish. If it's not crazy busy (and that's a key caveat), the chef usually accomodates it by pulling together something quite wonderful, not on the menu, using whatever's fresh & cool in the kitchen--and, to be honest, we've frequently been happier with that than with the main-dish meat dishes that others ordered. key is to call ahead and ask if the chef can do it and to make sure the restaurant isn't slammed when you go.

that said, one of the reasons I've put the minibar off for as long as I have is that my usual dining companion is a strict vegetarian, and I just didn't see him being happy there at all.

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