I do not consider myself in any way a professional expert on food. However, I like to believe that I enjoy fine dining and quality meals. I have a good knowledge of cooking and thoroughly enjoy concocting new delicious dishes. I actively seek new restaurants that have interesting and intriguing concepts. Most importantly I am a gourmand (I am Greek) and will eat gluttonously to excess.
To make a long story short, I brought my friend to MiniBar for her birthday and it was the most wonderful food experience I have ever had in my life. You leave the restaurant feeling like you ate food made by fairies and elves in a magical land of whimsy and sparkles
Minibar is the creation of master Chef Jose Andres. Andres can be credited with bringing ambrosial eating establishments to DC like Oyamel, Zaytinya, Jaleo and Café Atlantico. Oh and he also won Iron Chef America against Bobby Flay and has a slew of other awards. Basically he is god’s gift to DC, direct from Spain.
Minibar is a private dining experience within Café Atlantico. The menu is set and consists of 30-35 tasty treats for $120 per person. It’s capped at six people per session and there are two sessions per day.
Reservations are EXTREMELY HARD to obtain and you must call on a specific day and specific hour 30 days in advance.
Once you secure your reservation and arrive to your day of destiny, you are greeted by a server who explains how it will all go down and offers you some sparkling water and drinks. Now the food is already selected. However, you may choose from a variety of wines. The staff are extremely knowledgeable in this department and can help you pair the right wine with the food. Another good option (and what we chose) is a set of “pairing” drinks. If you choose this you get 3 drinks that correspond to what you will be eating a specific time. There are three separate options. If you don’t know anything about wine , then I would suggest choosing one of the pairings as its already determined it will be yummy.
Once that’s all sorted you are led upstairs to a bar with 6 place settings.
You are seated facing into the kitchen where the two chefs prepare, explain and present everything to you. Now, be prepared to be amazed and entranced by what they can do with food. They take food we are all familiar with- Popcorn, cotton candy, Caesar salad, corn on the cob- deconstruct it and refashion it into something you would have never imagined. They change the textures, the presentation –they even use liquid nitrogen!- to stir up all the senses. Everything comes in a bite size portion placed on a counter directly in front of you to be eaten at the chefs command ” Eat this in one bite” “Eat this in two bites’ ” Eat this and breathe thru your nose” ( to be explained)
I won’t describe every single dish as there are over thirty but I will give some of the highlights.
Olive Oil “Bon Bon”: This is a delicate capsule of olive oil seasoned to taste like the perfect dressing. It looks like a tiny liquid pill you pop and savour the scrumptious flavour exploding on your tongue.
“Dragons Breath” Popcorn: This is the coolest thing I have ever eaten. It’s made with that dry ice stuff you remember from childhood Halloweens. You have to eat it fast to get the full effect. “Eat this in one bite, look at each other and breathe” says the chef. Once this tasty morsel enters your mouth thick smoke comes out of your nose- you guessed it like a dragon!
Boneless Chicken Wing:Ok, this may sound boring but it was so delectable and succulent my mouth is watering at the mere thought. The juiciest piece of chicken is seasoned to perfection with a bit of coconut and tamarind.
Cotton Candy Eel- The name says it all. Who would have ever thought these two things could go together? Well, they do and they spin the cotton candy on their own machine right before you.
“Guacamole”: A frozen tube looking thing with tomato sorbet on the outside and avocado crema in side, with a bit of crushed chips makes this cold version of Guacamole different yet familiar at the same time.
May I add that besides being experts in what they were doing the two chefs were extremely nice and friendly?
One of them said the number one remark he gets from people at the end of the night is ” Can I take you home with me?” , which is no wonder considering he is a food magician. Oh, and he had no formal food education- take that culinary school!!
If you are looking for a unique culinary experience that will titillate all the senses, you have come to the right place.
Don’t expect to eat till you gorge here. You are eating art.
If there was ever a place to experience Avant Garde Foodism, its here.