Ok, I totally lied the other week.  I said I would put up a restaurant review then, and obviously, I didn’t.  Sometimes life decides that your plans are not as well laid out as you thought and gives you something different to do.  But now I’m doing a restaurant review.  Slash I’m going to brag a bit.  Because this meal was just that amazing.

Two of our chefs

I’ve mentioned Zaytinya before, and it’s one of my all time favorite restaurants.  It’s run by Jose Andres, who has a few different restaurants in DC.  I decided that I need to visit each and every one of these restaurants, and that includes this place called minibar.  According to the chefs there, it’s the 8th hardest reservation to get in the country, but after three tries, I finally talked to someone on the other end and made a reservation for two for the following month.  My friend and I then spent the next month counting down the days to the most hyped-up meal I think either of us have ever had.  And honestly, it deserved so much more hype, because it still managed to exceed our expectations.

The other chef, preparing our food

minibar is housed in America Eats Tavern.  It only has two seatings of six a night, and your reservation has to be made a month in advance.  It serves 25(ish, it varies) courses, only a few bites per dish, each one a chock full of molecular gastronomy and deliciousness.  Oh, and you sit at a bar while three amazing chefs stand on the other side talking to you and making your amazingly delicious food.

Looking down the bar

And oh my god, that food.  It was so good that regular food just wasn’t appealing afterwards.  I literally did not feel like cooking my own food for a solid week, because it just wasn’t as good.  And some of the flavor combinations were surprising yet stunning (grapefruit with your peanut soup? More please!).  Let’s just say that this incredibly decadent meal was easily the best one I have ever eaten, and definitely worth every penny (just so you know, it’s a lot of pennies, but I would highly recommend it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, at least).

Rose champagne – our palate cleanser between courses

Oh, and they can adapt the menu (somewhat) depending on your diet.  Actually, of the six of us there that night, my friend was the only one with no dietary restrictions.  I was one of two vegetarians, there were one meat eater who did not eat seafood, and two pescetarians.  The chefs were able to beautifully adapt the dishes so that they were as similar as they could make them without restricting everyone.  And if you’re wondering, they can’t make the menu vegan, sorry.

1. Oaxacan Snowball Cockatil

I’m sure I could continue to rave about this meal for days (as in, I already have, to all my friends), but instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  All these are individual courses, shown in the order they were served.  I apologize for some of the pictures.  The lighting was not ideal for food photography, and I had to take the picture very quickly for some of the dishes before they started to melt or collapse or something.  Also, I was totally in a huge rush to try every new thing in front of me.  Anyway, if you have the time and the means and the patience it takes just to get the reservation, this is an experience you should totally have.  In addition to the amazing food, it was also such a treat to meet and talk with the chefs who prepared this amazing meal.  I am so happy I had the opportunity to dine at minibar.  It’s definitely not an experience I could ever forget.

2. “Golden Nugget”
3. Peanut Butter and Jelly “Sandwich”
(it was a one bite dish, but the flavor kept changing in your mouth!)

4. Sea Bean Tempurah
(crisp and naturally salty)

5. Almond Tart with Blue Cheese
(the “shell” is actually a frozen almond….substance with the texture of thin chocolate)

6. Mint Leaf Mojito
(Slushy texture, and definitely the best mojito I’ve ever had.  Plus, I love the flip flop plating 🙂

7. “Gazpacho”
(Gazpacho ice cream that tasted exactly like the soup! Plus croutons, a sprinkling of the gazpacho veggies, and some extra tomato)

8. Thai Peanut Soup
(with freeze dried grapefruit pulp – amazing! – and none of those “peanuts” are actually peanuts)

9. Zucchini in Textures
(one of my favorites – one layer of creamy zucchini soup, one layer of gelee with zucchini seeds suspended in it)

10. “Shwarma”
(my least favorite dish, mostly because the roll part of it was boring, but the “tzatziki” was whipped  and head GREAT flavor, and the original  version includes meat)
11. Fabada Asturiana
(white bean soup with garlic, and again, none of those “beans” are actual beans, and the original version includes seafood)

12. “Grits” with Brown Butter
(the sprinkling of espresso made the dish much more interesting, and the original version includes meat)

13. Hearts of Palm Raviolo
(my second least favorite – the hearts of palm plus capers made it a bit salty for my taste, but there was another sprinkling of espresso over it which was good)

14. Charcoal Grilled Eggplant with Black Garlic
(with little gelee drops of lemon and lime – get a little bit of everything in one bite and it’s AMAZING)

15. Parmesan Egg with Migas
(“man-made egg,” aka a yolk with the white part reconstructed out of creamy deliciousness, and Parmesan crisps to soak it all up)

16. “Adam and Eve”
(meringue sandwich with an apple and blue cheese filling – the whole thing was surprisingly physically light)

17. Olive Oil Soup with Manderin
(my first olive oil soup ever – and it was SO GOOD, plus a dried mandarin and some deliciously tart gelee things as well)

Pouring the maple syrup for the first of the desserts…

18. Vermont Snow
(literally, a bowl of snow with three kinds of maple goodness – syrup poured over the top, the two crisp things sticking up, and traditional maple candy – my favorite of all the desserts)

19. “Mango” Coconut Rice
(puffed rice, some meringue type thing, and three different versions of mango)
20. “Baklava”
(all the taste of baklava in one little bite)

21. Terra[misu]
(a frozen concoction that you HAD to stuff in your mouth in one go or else it would melt mid-bite)

22-25. Profiterole, Apples in White Chocolate, “Pecan Pie,” and Fizzy Paper
(exactly what it sounds like, but even better)
Our bill, resented in a whole egg shell, then smashed on the counter in front of us

My personalized menu from the night (everyone got their own), later signed by our three chefs

If you want to read a more in-depth review of the dining experience, check out this post at DC-Wrapped Dates.  This is from my friend who first told me about minibar, but he had the opportunity to eat there a little while ago.  Since he went 2009, the meal itself in his review is different from mine (the menu changes every month or so), but the overall dining experience was essentially the same.

Have I tempted you enough?  Have a big day in mind, or something huge to celebrate?  Go to minibar.  It’s a HUGE splurge, but it’s absolutely worth doing at least once in your life.

3 Responses to minibar

  1. Cheers from a fellow DC foodie. I am also a fan of Jose Andres – who isn't? 🙂
    Natasha @ Come Due Maiali

  2. Wow! This sounds amazing. Nice photos.

  3. Kiri W. says:

    Holy cow, this sounds amazing! And they make all those courses a la minute? Mind-boggling! I won't lie, I am utterly jealous and would love to try this place out, but there is no way I'd get reservations for anytime I'd even be close to minibar.

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