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Cafe Atlantico


Jason Perlow
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In fifteen minutes worth of postings, we have The Little Prince and The Little Princess.

not sure if that's our literary or political zeitgeist.

not sure I wanna know. :blink:

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i finally made it to cafe atlantico today for the latino dim sum brunch after falling victim to my own euro-centric vision for experiencing jose andres' food at jaleo and zaytinya. and my god is that place good, absolutely stunning.

ive never had anything remotely resembling the hot and cold foie gras and corn soup in my life and the dish is... beyond words. a little coffee mug of warm unctous fudge-like liquid in that wonderful tone of pale beige that always sets my heart and tastebuds alight whenever foie gras makes an appearence. a delicately trembling flower of chilled foie gras mousse (?) poised on the surface under a smattering of chives, melting away every second and me acutely feeling the need to finish it as it was meant to be enjoyed. twas wickedly decadent.

i could go on and on but i will not. duck confit was perfection, the skin as brittle as the shell of a creme brulee, bathed in passion fruit oil. time constrains me now but the liquid conch fritters... goodness gracious me. but thats another post. suffice to say, a postprandial mojito capped off an amazing afternoon. i was full of delicious food, the sun was out, old man winter has retreated back to his dwelling, what more could one want?

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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  • 5 months later...

They (finally!) updated their web site and now it has fancy flash graphics so that might be the problem. I had to up my Internet memory to get it to display.

Here's what's on the web site dessert menu (notice that foam makes it on the menu):

Tres Leches con Tres Pinas

Home-style cake soaked in milk and presented a new way, with pineapple, milk jam and carmelized almonds

Bizcocho Templado de Chocolate con Banana

Warm chocolate cake with Venezuelan chocolate flan, banana foam and fresh banana-lime salad

"Pina Colada"

Coconut, rum and pineapple are the components of this classic tropical cocktail, served as a light refreshing dessert

Sopa de Mango

Soup of mango, frozen with mint, lime and meringue

BABA

The age-old classic French yeast cake, served warm in a modern Latin style with our special blend of jamaican rum, spice, panela and tangy fresh cream

Coco en Dos Formas

Coconut two ways with mango salad and vanilla-lime Gelee

Sorbete del Dia

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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  • 4 months later...

I finally tried Cafe Atlantico tonight for dinner! And man, was it good :biggrin:

The space is pretty nifty -- there are three levels of dining, all open to each other vertically. We were seated in the nosebleeds at the top, however next time around I would likely request the middle tier, where you have a view both above & below you. Also our table was right next to the hallway to the restrooms, and the bright flourescent lighting kinda detracted from the atmosphere :huh:

Our server was fantastic; Michelle (I have my credit card receipt in front of me) was friendly, knowledgeable, and always appeared at just the right moment.

Finally of course the FOOD -- ahhhhh......

Conch Fritters - so divine. A beautiful rectangular glass plate held a precise row of 4 golden fritters paired with 4 little translucent dumpling purses filled with avocado. Fritter eaten alone - warm, crispy, meaty rich seafood morsels with liquid centers. Dumpling eaten alone - delicate smooth avocado. Fritter + Dumpling = embarassing moans of ecstasy, causing heads at other tables to turn :wub:

Special Salad - honeydew, microgreens, citrus, salmon roe. This was husband's choice and I'm not sure what made him order it....not his type of dish AT ALL. He ate most of it except the roe. I tasted it, found the flavor combination to be a little bizarre. Far outclassed by my fritters. This was the only off-note of the meal (and "off" only in that we aren't salmon roe folks).

Seared Salmon on Cauliflower/Quinoa "Cous Cous" - big chunk of beautiful pink fish. Rare on the inside -- flavor was perfect. When I first starting eating this, I thought "well this is a little bland - like spa food" but the more I ate the better it tasted. Cauliflower and quinoa provided a really good nutty-flavored base, plus had caramelized onions hiding in it; salmon was topped with...diced pomegranate? can't remember. Also more wonderful avocado on the side to give every bite an extra richness.

Grilled Portabello w/ cheese & beets - hubby's choice. He is a mushroom freak & cleaned his plate. I had a bite & was pretty impressed; usually I'm not much on fungi that are as large as my face, but this was tasty. Gooey strings of melted cheese made it really decadent; beets were a nice & unexpected addition (especially after all the goat-cheese salads I've seen them on lately!).

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Flan, Banana Foam, Banana-Lime Salad - as good as it sounds. The fraternal twin to Turkish Coffee Chocolate Cake at Zaytinya. Rich chocolate cake cylinder w/ molten center is the same, but accessorized differently. Fabulous!

Drinks - mohito (husband) and a glass of Chilean Shyraz (me). Sorry can't remember the name of the wine but it's the only chilean shyraz by the glass on there. Both just dandy.

$100, including tax & tip, pretty good deal! More than we usually spend at Jose's other two in the neighborhood (Jaleo, Zaytinya) but obviously a restaurant on the next "tier" (or whatever you want to call it) above those. I wouldn't hesitate to steer anybody in Cafe Atlantico's direction.

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

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  • 3 weeks later...

My wife and I and a friend had the pretheater menu at CA last Saturday. It consisted of a foie gras appetizer, a main of split lobster served in a rich ragu of tomatoes and olives, and a selection of carfefully prepared desserts. All the food was excellent, and for $25 this must be one of the best pre-theater menu values in town.

However, we encountered some strange service problems. When I called to confirm my reservation, I was told that someone had called to cancel it. When I said that no one had called and that we were coming as planned, the person on the other end grew defensive, said he wasn't "lying" and that my wife must have called about five minutes ago to cancel. She had done no such thing, and soon I found myself arguing with someone whom I had never met about whether my own wife had made a phone call. I tried to explain that there must have been a misunderstanding or a confusion with another patron (the pertson I spoke with even mentioned another party with a somewhat similar name to mine), but he would have none of it. I accepted his offer to find the originating number of the call for cancellation, after which he put me on hold, came back on the line, and told me the system was "down." It amazed me that a maitre was so obstinate in refusing to concede a simple error, especially when a patron had shown the courtesy to confirm a reservation. The whole altercation left a bad taste in my mouth even before we arrived.

Things improved once we arrived at the restaurant. Our server was efficient, helpful, and friendly (though the question, "Are you still working on that?" always makes me wince). But then things deteriorated again while ordering the wine. After I ordered a bottle of what the wine list described as a Mosel, the "sommelier" came up to our table to recommend another bottle (an Alsace), saying he had the other wine in stock but that the Alsace might be more to my liking. He made this recommednation very delicately, and the Alsace was only five dollars more, so I didn't think this was a case of a wine steward pushing a more expensive wine. I thanked him for his advice but said I would stick with the Mosel. Then a very strange thing happened. When he came back with the bottle I had ordered and showed it to me, it was not a Mosel, but a Rheingau. He made no mention of the switch, and when I pointed it out to him, he said, "Oh, there's a mistake in the wine list; this is the wine you ordered." This, after we had discussed the wine in detail only minutes earlier! How could somebody described as a sommelier not be aware of such an error and not bring it to the patron's attention?

I should add that we were at Cafe Atlantico after the heavy snowfall that same day, so the restaurant must have had a lot of cancellations and might have been out of joint in other ways. Still, one would think they would have been thankful for patrons who confirmed rather than cancelled, and the confusion over the wine was certainly not weather related. We will return to CA again for its excellent food, but it seems to have some service wrinkles to iron out.

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

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Follow up: The management at Cafe Atlantico contacted me the day of my post to apologize for the mix ups. I really appreciated the professionalism of this gesture. I also owe CA an apology myself: A reader of this forum pointed out to me that I should not have mentioned names in my review, and frankly I think she's right. My apologies to the staff at CA for doing so.

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

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My colleagues at Café asked me to pass this along:

Thank you for taking the time to express your dissatisfaction with your recent evening at Café Atlantico. We apologize that the experience failed to meet your expectations.

There was a snow storm earlier on the evening in question and we had been inundated with cancellations. It was threatening to snow again so we had to make a decision about closing and sending our employees home early. At the same time, we didn’t want to disappoint any customers so we took extra care to confirm every reservation on the books. In this instance, there were two reservations with very similar names and there was some confusion. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

That said, we want you to know that at Café Atlantico we take your comments very seriously. We recognize that it is only by examining and analyzing where we go wrong that we can have any hope of doing it right. The type of feedback you provided helps us become better.

We hope you will choose to be our guest again at Café Atlantico. We promise to do better next time.

Regards,

Jimmy Pumarol

General Manager

Café Atlantico

"Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam; spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. "

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So why Mr. Pumerol, did you argue with him regarding his reservation... If there were so many cancellations, shouldn't you have said 'we will see you at (insert time here)'? Why the confrontation?

Edited by sdelgato (log)

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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So why Mr. Pumerol, did you argue with him regarding his reservation...  If there were so many cancellations, shouldn't you have said 'we will see you at (insert time here)'?  Why the confrontation?

This final comment is so unnecessary. Café Atlantico admitted they made a mistake and apologized for it.

Restaurants are businesses that are operated by PEOPLE! Sometimes…. people make mistakes! Imagine that.

Todd Thrasher

The Guy who says YES CHEF and Sometimes makes a cocktail or two.

Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper

PX (Upstairs)

728 King Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 299-8384

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So why Mr. Pumerol, did you argue with him regarding his reservation...  If there were so many cancellations, shouldn't you have said 'we will see you at (insert time here)'?  Why the confrontation?

This final comment is so unnecessary. Café Atlantico admitted they made a mistake and apologized for it.

Restaurants are businesses that are operated by PEOPLE! Sometimes…. people make mistakes! Imagine that.

I agree. That was a sufficient explanation and apology from my POV.

I would return rather soon and try again.

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I agree as well. banco appears to be more than happy with the resolution of all this, and Jimmy was magnanimous and gracious in following up here with his reply. I think Café Atlantico comes out of this looking like a winner, and I'm going to be certain to reward them in the very near future with my business because of the conscientious way they handled this situation.

Cheers,

Rocks.

[note to banco: if you're worried about having used real names, you can always go back and edit them out of your posting so they aren't archived until the end of time - I can help you with this if you'd like - just let me know.]

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It is just that I received the same confrontational treatment over a reservation I was attempting to make. I love the restaurant and will continue to go but it was a little off putting...

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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Don is right. Anyone can have an off night or mix things up; it's how you deal with it afterwards that matters. And CA's handling of this, as Don said, has made it come out looking like a winner. Jimmy's reaching out (which again I really appreciate) is proof of that. Now let's move on.

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

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  • 2 years later...

Excuse my ignorance.

1. If there is a minibar thread, I couldn't find it, so please feel free to move this inquiry over to that thread.

2. How does ordering at minibar work? I went to their website and looked up the menu. It's broken into three sections: "Flavors & Textures," "Snacks," and "Sweet Ends." There are no prices, and I would assume you just order a la carte, not unlike at a tapas bar. What confused me is the message on the main minibar homepage which says that as of May 15, the menu will be $120 (w/o tax/tip or drink). Can someone explain?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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The Minibar topic is here. It's a single tasting menu of about 30 courses. There are only six seats, two sittings per evening.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The Minibar topic is here. It's a single tasting menu of about 30 courses. There are only six seats, two sittings per evening.

Ahhh, thanks, FG.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Excuse my ignorance.

1. If there is a minibar thread, I couldn't find it, so please feel free to move this inquiry over to that thread.

2. How does ordering at minibar work?  I went to their website and looked up the menu.  It's broken into three sections: "Flavors & Textures," "Snacks," and "Sweet Ends."  There are no prices, and I would assume you just order a la carte, not unlike at a tapas bar.  What confused me is the message on the main minibar homepage which says that as of May 15, the menu will be $120 (w/o tax/tip or drink).  Can someone explain?

The mini-bar is a prix fixe (do we still use that phrase?) degustation. In for a dime in for $120, as the saying goes. Six folks sit down at the bar and two hours and 30-odd courses later you walk away, menu in hand, pondering.

The price, unfortunately just went up this month. Regarding drink, btw, matching courses is more or less impossible, friends of mine and I decided (FWIW) that a bottle of fizz -- preferably the sparkling wine from New Mexico -- works best.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 2 months later...

We had brunch here this morning - Latino Dim Sum. Loved almost all dishes. Duck confit with an passion fruit flavor was meltingly delicious. Fried egg in veracruz sauce just spicy enough, with a rich olive, caper, tomato flavor. Conch fritter were quite tasty, the liquid filling a perfect compliment. Also enjoyed the wild mushroom quesadillas.

Love to go to the minibar next time.

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  • 2 months later...
We had brunch here this morning - Latino Dim Sum.  Loved almost all dishes.  Duck confit with an passion fruit flavor was meltingly delicious.  Fried egg in veracruz sauce just spicy enough, with a rich olive, caper, tomato flavor.  Conch fritter were quite tasty, the liquid filling a perfect compliment.  Also enjoyed the wild mushroom quesadillas.

Well, I’m here to say that we were blown away by the “dim sum” luncheon on weekends at the CA. Wow! Colette and I came one Saturday and expected what we’d had before on weekdays, e.g., good fresh product, well done and pleasantly-served - but this meal far exceeded our prior experiences and expectations (it reminded us of Ze Kitchen Galerie in my home town, which is not Lake Woebegone. Wow again!) We were so impressed that we came back and over the two days had: the mango and jicima/sardines raviolis, scallops with orange, cigalas (with a charming burnt taste), shrimp with corn, huitlacoche and mushroom quesadillas, confit de canard, carne asado, chocolate and banana and baba au rhum desserts. Wow! Or did I say that before? The tariffs = $95.70 and 95.25. Wow!

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 4 months later...

I had a wonderful dinner at Café Atlantico last night, and I’m doing this with very little reading of past posts, so if I repeat too many things people have already said, sorry.....

First of all, when I do the food-tourist thing I generally try to make a good connection with my server right off the bat....we need to be good “partners” to make a meal all that it can be. My server last night was extremely friendly while still being honest about what her favorite dishes were and why....when they have a genuine emotional connection to the menu, THAT is the key to good service for me (forget to fill my water glass, step on my foot, knock my wine glass into my lap...all of that leaves me unphased). When dishes come to me with the highest, giddy recommendation, and I taste them and agree...it’s kind of like when your friend tells you about a great movie you’ve never seen, so you go and watch it and then debrief each other on what you thought were the finer points. That was my experience last night, so long story short...great service.

One thing worth noting for anyone who may be in the same post-bariatric surgery boat as me is that the chef was really happy to help me out. Until now there wasn’t a chef’s menu that could defeat me...26 courses at Manresa was mere child’s play, but last night I had to tell my server I’d probably just have to try a few small appetizers and why that was the case. Without me asking her to, she went and talked to the chef to see if a compromise could be reached that got me a tasting menu I could handle. Basically, instead of doing the two “main” courses towards the end, they gave me a much smaller version of one of the mains and added an appetizer that wasn’t normally on the tasting menu (which happened to be the BEST dish of the night...or actually, the last two or so years).

And here’s the food (no pictures, sorry, between having a crappy camera and the fact that worrying about photography takes too much away from my experience...I just don’t do it).

Magic Mojito- Kind of a Mojito-tini…..the glass comes to the table with a huge wad of cotton candy, and the server pours the drink over it. Not normally my type of thing, but for some reason I needed a Carrie Bradshaw moment.

The wine I chose to enjoy during dinner was a wonderful “just dry enough” Rose……Pinot Noir, Adelsheim, Willamette Valley, 2006

Minibar Treat- crispy beets- This little bite looked like a ball of saffron threads, and tasted like a sweet potato chip

Warm Oyster w/Pineapple and Miso- Hey, try to guess who I am…..”Oh MAN! I could eat about six or fifteen of these!”. I can’t remember the type of oyster, but it was very small, kind of like an Olympia. A truly excellent bite of food, lightly cooked/warmed in the halfshell, sitting on a bed of wild puffed rice. The texture of the oyster, along with the warmth and sharp citrus notes (along with a tiny bit of…..cilantro?) made it a potentially addictive dish.

Foie Gras Soup w/Floating Islands of Corn- Imagine what “cream of foie” soup would taste like and you are halfway there. Three very rich pillows of “corn flavored” whipped cream floated on the top, and the bits of “corn nuts” added the textural component that it needed. Granted, there would have been NOTHING wrong with the cream of foie and corny whipped cream on their own, but the corn nuts rounded it out.

Grilled Octopus w/Warm Strawberries and Arugula- I enjoyed all of the dishes, but this was the first of two “I need to make a dramatic statement” plates of the evening. The dish is basically a whole (small, but not “baby”) grilled octopus…..and btw, it was by far THE most tender octopus I have ever eaten. It sat on top of a brush-stripe of squid ink and balsamic sauce. It was flanked by one large, roasted strawberry and one large, dehydrated strawberry. There was also some lime foam and arugula. It was just incredible...so my mandatory dramatic statement to the staff was something like “If I were a regular here, this would be the dish you would know to automatically bring me...and it would be the dish I would make any of my squeamish friends try because it would absolutely win them over”. And it’s true, the dish was complex (the smokiness and strawberry flavor worked more harmoniously with the Rose than anything else I ate), but it would also be a fantastic “octopus for beginners” plate. I think they said they’ve only added this to the menu in the last couple of weeks, so check it out!

Unagi, Pineapple Wrap, Avocado Sauce- From what they told me this is new as well, so if I’m the first person to give the scoop on this dish on eG, then I feel pretty special. This was the second of two “mandatory dramatic statement” dishes of the evening, and probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It consisted of three wide filets of eel, “wrapped” in pineapple (either it was some micro-thin pineapple, or the glaze consisted of pineapple, I was too into the dish to get all technical). It was topped with very crispy, toasted quinoa and was surrounded by an avocado/wasabi sauce, some frisee and a few sea beans. Umami...and again I say Umami. Eel with pineapple...I can see how people would think this could be even more candy-like than your standard glazed variety at any strip-mall sushi restaurant. There was a sweetness to be sure, but the texture of the fresh unagi against the crispy quinoa...set against the slight bitterness of the greens, and the spicy yet unctuous avocado-wasabi sauce...it reminded me of a comment I had about some of the dishes at WD-50. Basically, it is an entirely new preparation of items you are already familiar with, and the combination triggers something that reminds you of your favorite comfort foods. Biscuits and Gravy would be one of my most beloved comfort food dishes...and while the unagi is about as far removed from that dish as anything you could come up with, it triggered the EXACT same kind of sense-memory and became an instantaneous “comfort food”. But enough of that…my proclamation for the plate was something like “this is the kind of dish that could bring your biggest food nerd-tourists and your Outback Steakhouse loving housewives together in perfect harmony”.

Scallop, Cocoa Butter, American Caviar, Cauliflower Puree (I think..my notes are illegible)- A masterfully prepared single scallop with “white chocolate” and a quenelle of roe. It was wonderful, it just should have come before the unagi. I mean, if someone gives you the best piece of foie gras you’ve ever eaten, and then they feed you the best loaf of bread on earth...I don’t care if the loaf was one that Jesus fed to the multitudes...it’s not going to compete with the foie.

White Chocolate Mousse, Warm Over Cold- a good dessert, contrasting textures and temperatures, the biggest thing I remember about it was that it reminded me of something the young prodigy JWest at Bluestem in KC made last year……a spin on baked Alaska that isn’t going to be surpassed any time soon.

So surgery aside, they made me a lot of small courses I could manage. Unfortunately, I did have to leave a few bites of the octopus and half a piece of unagi, but I know my limitations. They slowed the pacing down a little bit for me, and in general made it a wonderful experience.

Lastly, I wouldn’t chalk these things up to annoyances or failures, just funny observations that are probably more about me than them.......First, I ALWAYS fall for the water thing in restaurants.....as soon as they ask, “sparkling, still, mineral, or....” I never wait until they say TAP, I just hear “STILL” and go with it. Then I laugh when I see the extra six bucks on my bill. Also, what is the significance or tradition behind the tableside guacamole preparation (I'm familiar with magic of the molcajete in Latin restaurants, but why here)? Are they being quirky, is it a long-standing tradition I don’t know about, is it just THAT damn good....I just don’t like tableside preparations and it didn’t seem to go with the overall vibe of the place.

Anyway, a great way to blow my per diems for the trip.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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  • 2 months later...

I had originally hoped to snag a reservation at Minibar for my family to celebrate the anniversary of my wife and I, however, the restaurant was already booked for the evening. Although I wanted our sons to have the Minibar experience, my disappointment wasn't too great, however, as I wanted to try the food from the Cafe Atlantico side as well.

The combination of the restaurants is really intriguing. Minibar, the restaurant within a restaurant, is one of the most creative, fun and exclusive restaurants in the country and beyond. I had a truly amazing meal there last time I was in DC. Cafe Atlantico, the host restaurant, serves creatively inspired Nuevo Latino cuisine. Both restaurants fall under the aegis of Jose Andres' Thinkfoodgroup with Katsuya Fukushima as the chef.

We were seated for our 8PM reservation adjacent to Minibar. Chef Katsuya had a special menu in mind for us, but we were asked if we or our sons, 16 and 8 years old, would prefer to order off the menu. My preference clearly was to eat what Chef Katsuya had in mind, but we wavered for a moment when considering our sons. Fortunately, I recalled our original objective and told them that we were all excited to see what Chef Katsuya had planned for us!

The meal ultimately consisted of a mix of the cooking from both restaurants, which pleased me greatly as we enjoyed some of the best of both worlds. We started with cocktails. The boys had non-alcoholic Dominicana Lemonades, concoctions composed of a mixture of various tropical juices, satisfying them. My wife and I started with some latino classics. She had a ...

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Mojito, while I had a classic Peruvian...

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Pisco Sour. Both were outstanding renditions of classics.

The meal started with a few elements from Minibar including the now classic and signature...

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Olive Oil Bon Bon. It was fun to watch the smiles on my sons' faces as they ate these delightful morsels. This was why I wanted to bring them to Minibar!

With an obvious nod to Thomas Keller and his signature cornet, the next dish...

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Bagel and Lox Cone also had salmon roe as an essential element. After the visual reference and the roe, the similarities ended as this was also a play on the classic NYC bagel with lox and cream cheese. Though neither of the boys eat their bagels with lox or smoked salmon, they liked this, the older more than the younger. He wasn't enamored of the roe, though I was happy that he tried it. The flavors matched those of a good rendition of the dish's inspiration, with an obvious and expected textural difference.

In his excellent report prior to this, Zeemanb enjoyed his ...

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Tableside Guacamole, but wondered about its place at this restaurant. In the context of a Minibar meal it does seem odd, but in the Nuevo Latino context of cafe Atlantico it fits right in. It also happens to be some of the finest guacamole that I or my family have ever eaten. If there was a downside to it, it was that we ate too much of it, affecting some of us later on.

Not knowing what was coming, we asked Brian to select the wines for us. His first selection was a half bottle of...

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Qupe 2007 Marsanne, which proved to be a fine choice.

Beauty was the hallmark of the next dish...

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Beetroot Tumbleweed. The presentation was beautiful, but so was the flavor and the texture as these delectable morsels were popped into our eager mouths. This was one of my wife's particular favorites. Though the texture, technique and presentation was completely different, this reminded me of of the beetroot/yogurt/meringue profiteroles I particularly enjoyed last year at elBulli.

Another nod to elBulli followed, a dish that has become a part of the Minibar lexicon as it has that of elBulli, the famous...

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Liquid Olives. It turned out that our 8yo really loved this, his first experience with spherification. It was ultimately his favorite dish of the night.

Though not the most impressive dish of the evening visually...

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Warm Potato Mousse with American caviar and vanilla Oil, was a real knock-out. I can't recall having vanilla with potatoes before, but after having it here, it was a totally natural combination. This dish was perfectly balanced and absolutely outstanding!

The restaurant describes itself as Nuevo Latino, but in reality it incorporates elements from throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. One example was its ...

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Liquid Conch Fritters. Outwardly, they appeared to be classic conch fritters, however, appearances can be deceiving. Tough they had the flavor of conch fritters and the external fried crunch, the interior was actually a warm liquid conch chowder. Though not my favorite flavor of the night, this dish was fun.

Perhaps the biggest conceptual stretch of the evening was the

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Oyster "Pizza". This dish retained the texture of a fresh, just-cooked oyster while incorporating the flavors of pizza! While I found this dish to be brilliant and my family all liked it, I doubt that those who find fault with Wylie Dufresne's Pizza Pebbles would enjoy this dish either. It is not a dish for anyone who is an absolute purist when it comes to either oysters or pizza.

My older son really, really liked the ...

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Boneless Chicken Wing Indian Flavor though the youngest found his too intensely seasoned for his palate.

Unfortunately, by this time, the majority of the table were really starting to get full, to which I informed the kitchen. Rather than turn what was an extremely positive experience into an ordeal, we thought it best to start limiting the output from the kitchen. I'm sure as a result that we missed some amazing things, but as it was we were not quite done yet.

The next course was for adults only. Another spherification, the...

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Mojito Fizz was a great palate cleanser.

I'm glad that despite our collective appetite limitations, the kitchen did not hold back on

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Foie Gras Cappucino with Corn Foam and Corn Nuts. This was liquid decadence with the corn nuts providing a nice textural counterpoint. By this time our youngest was really quite full and no longer particularly interested in savories. I ate his. :wink:

By the time the ...

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Coconut Tuna Ceviche Wrapped in Avocado, Corn Nuts, Soy caramel, Lime Bubbles was served I was the only one who still had an appetite. This was unfortunate for the rest of the table, as this was simply outstanding. Along with the Potato Mousse, this was my favorite dish of the evening.

We still had another course to, the main course. They brought the same course for each of our sons and a different one for my wife and for myself. We had our second half-bottle of wine, this one a red, ...

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Havens 2003 Borriquot a Cabernet Franc predominant blend from the Napa Valley.

My wife was served the...

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Scallops with coconut rice, crispy rice, ginger, squid, squid ink oil , while the boys had...

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Carne Asada with Malanga Puree and Chips. My wife and sons were able to eat their proteins but not much else through no fault of the dishes. I had...

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Caramelized Duck Confit with Brussel Sprouts, Greek Yogurt and PX Reduction. By this time, even I was getting quite full. The confit was nicely done, though bits of the exterior that were caramelized were a bit to sweet for my taste. This was better when paired with the relatively bitter Brussel Sprouts and the dish improved for me once I realized this and ate accordingly.

Dessert was, for me, much better than what I had the previous night at Central. It was sweet, but not as aggressively so as the kit kat bar at Central. The...

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Warm White Chocolate Mousse with Coffee Gelee and Muscavado Sugar Streusel held my interest with unique flavor and textural elements. This was a winner for all.

The meal culminated with a bit of fun.

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Nitro Kettle Corn-Dragon's Breath were served to each of us directly out of a container of liquid nitrogen. While tasty and enjoyable to eat, the real fun came from watching one's dining partners snort out dragon's breath!

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While we were served a few items from the Minibar cornucopia, the majority of our dishes came from the Cafe Atlantico kitchen. The creativity was the same for both. Anyone missing out on reservations for Minibar should be quite happy to have the opportunity to dine at Cafe Atlantico. It is simply too good and too much fun to be considered a consolation prize. The evening was everything I hoped it would be and more.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Nice report. Your son is absolutely adorable! Where did he come from? :wink:

What are your wife's scallops sitting in (the white creamy substance)?

Love the olive oil bon bon, it was one of the most memorable tastes for me last year.

I haven't had the Havens Borriquot, though their Merlot is one of the only palatable Merlots I've had recently. How did it pair with (which one(s) of) the dishes?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Hi Doc, I was at minibar Friday night (just got home, report to follow soon....minus anything even remotely approaching your photography) and have to chime in on the bonelesss chicken wing that you were served.... it was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I can see where it would be a bit much, but my friends and I had just done a KC bbq contest the weekend prior and it was just so....appropriate for my tastebuds at the time. Very intense.

And something about the usage of corn nuts and Fritos during the progression just hit the spot......

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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