Thursday, May 1, 2014

U.S. Adventures: Minibar- Washington, D.C.

Wow, this meal is a tough one to write about. I mean, it was amazing, but so intense in every way—taste, visual appeal, smells-- and there were just so many courses (over 20, I kind of lost count), there is just no way to talk about them all. But I will talk about a bunch, at least a little.

If you aren’t familiar with Minibar, it is a petite little place (they do 4 seatings of 6 people all night) in Washington D.C. from Chef José Andrés. You sit at a bar, and watch as the staff puts together all of these little treasures. It is molecular gastronomy at its finest as far as I can tell. We’ve had a fair amount of these kinds of meals in our lives, and hubby and I both agreed this was one of the best experiences. The food for sure, but even the atmosphere—so friendly and even for the intricacy of the dishes, very laid back. The staff all chatted with all of us a fair amount and hubby and one of the head guys even discussed the merits of hot pockets. You gotta love that.

We started with “pressed flowers.” Seriously, they were edible flowers that were pressed in a pane of some sort of starch and served in a book. Ok, this wasn’t my favorite for taste, but a damn cool presentation. Some of my favorite little bites were a tiny little almond tart that was an almond flavored bowl that was made of some sort of custard-type stuff that was dropped into liquid nitrogen, filled with a blue cheese cream and dusted with marcona almonds. It literally melted in your mouth. They told us do not touch it for more than a second and to pop the whole thing in your mouth or you’d have a melty mess. Super delicious. Also, presentation award for the meringue duckies filled with foie gras ice cream. “Eat the head first” he said. I did. There were several tasty little tidbits served in the beginning as well.

There was a version of chicken shawarma and  Vietnamese pig’s ear. This one was really tasty and served in crumpled brown paper to look like the street food. And a little individual dropper of hot sauce to spice it up a bit if you wanted to—and with a side of Thai Basil “iced tea” (including Aperol—and Italian aperitif). A great combo with the spicy pig’s ear and the gingery, citrusy drink.

There was a raw spot prawn served with apple miso ice and then an uni shaved ice dish. It was literally ribbons of frozen uni-flavored frozen ice with a piece of uni and tapioca pearls hiding in the bowl underneath. The pesto fusilli that came next was one of my favorites—the pasta was unlike any you’ve ever seen, served with egg, parmesan and pine nuts (kind of a deconstructed pesto) and then some lovely black truffles shaved across the top. 

There was coconut with cuttlefish (odd flavor combo) and Andalucían tofu (cubes of tofu with a gazpacho sorbet (interesting texture combo). The “Iberico tendon” was actually a gelatin made of beef tendon broth and served in a wonderfully rich beef broth with a quail egg yolk to thicken it up.

One dish smelled so damn good, but actually was a bit bland in taste—it was little beech mushrooms that had been steamed in plastic bags with truffle. When they cut open that bag and placed it in front of you, the smell….seriously.  But when you ate them, they just didn’t quite live up to the scent.

One of the last savory “large” dishes was a piece of lamb neck topped with this film of whey and little rounds of cucumber and fresh dill. That lamb was super tender and rich. Also, very good.

There were these little bon bons they served us next that I will not forget. If I could just get a box of those, I could give up chocolates. There was Bonne Bouche cheese inside a crisp coating (like a chocolate bon bon) then super-thin shaved nuts on the outside. They also did a dish called “Spring Thaw” that looked like frozen green slush and a bit of snow. It tasted distinctively grassy (parsley I am guessing).

Then came the barrage of sweet desserts—a minty cake, their version of a pocky stick, yuzu marshmallow, little frozen ice cream doughnuts and gummy whiskey bottles. We had the wine pairing with our meal and thoroughly enjoyed it—the sommelier that explained each new wine was super friendly and approachable.

This is one of those “experience” restaurants and I enjoyed the interactivity of the meal, talking to those preparing the food and our neighbors as well. We had the wine (and a beer) pairings too (really well done and explained) but they gave you just the right amount so that you could still remember the end of the meal by the end of the meal. (Although you forget some of the courses just because of the sheer number of courses.) But this is the first place of this ilk that hubby and I agreed we would like to repeat—the food was just that good, even for the exorbitant price tag.

855 E St NW
Washington DC 20004
minibar by Jose Andres on Urbanspoon


  1. Jessica in NoblesvilleMay 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Oh hot damn, that looks amazing. I will add that to my bucket list, but it's going behind Alinea and French Laundry.

    1. Jessica, having been to all three, I have to say, this may have been my favorite!

    2. Jessica in NoblesvilleMay 2, 2014 at 8:20 PM

      Will you please either marry or adopt me and take me with you?