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.
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 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