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Jun 25, 2007 04:07 PM

mini bar

I'm a ny foodie thinking about making a trip to dc to try jose anders' mini bar. I would love some reviews to see if its worth the trip. Citronelle comes in as a second so any thoughts on that would be great too. In advance, thanks!

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  1. Both restuarants are among the best in DC and the minibar is certainly unique. I don't Citronelle is any better than Jean Georges or Daniel in NY. I wouldn't come to DC just for that. Others will suggest Cityzen (but you have just as good in Per Se) and others. The Minibar is the only one that is unique--a reservation in essential the full 30 days in advance. I prefer the first seating so the two chefs (and the mise en place) is a bit fresher.

    1. We tried minibar for the first time in April, just before the price went up. it was an amazing experience. it was a lot of fun, which I expected, and I loved nearly every one of the dishes, which I didn't expect as much. I would highy recommend it.
      We had a great meal at Citronelle a few years ago. It was great, but like the poster above me said, it wasn't all that different than another wonderful restaurant. Minibar was unlike anything else we've done.

      1. I agree with both posters above. I took my boyfriend to Minibar for his birthday in February and it was an exceptional experience. Out of 30 courses (obviously most are 1-2 bites) we didn't like ONLY one of them. All the others were great and inventive. I've been to Alinea in Chicago and Coi in San Fran, and I believe Minibar is just as inventive, but in a different way, than those restaurants.


        1. If you're in NY have you been to WD-50 yet? Wylie Dufrense (apologies if that's a spelling gaff) is doing significantly more creative MG style food in a much nicer and more comfortable setting. When we were at minibar our service and interaction with the chefs was stinted at best, the wine was poor and a number of dishes weren't that creative. We really wished there had been less dishes, less of a hurry and more of a focus on creativity. We also wish we hadn't been treated so poorly by servers and restaurant staff.

          6 Replies
            1. re: jpschust

              jpschust....when did you go?

              My wife and I headed there maybe two years ago and we really enjoyed the experiment as well as our chefly interactions. I was not really wild be a wines that they suggested and poured for us, but they were OK enough. I think it is worth the trip, at least once, to try it out. I am not sure if I would go back again just to experience it again. Not because it was bad, but rather I have a lot of places in DC and surrounding area still yet to try.


              1. re: Pool Boy

                It was about 8 months ago now, and it was a one time visit as we were so turned off by how we were treated. A key to this is that the OP lives close to where there's a chef doing the same style of cooking in a more clever, creative way in a better setting- if the OP was on a super tight budget and only had the chance to try one MG restaurant and lived in DC and was dying to try it, that might be the only way I'd suggest it, but if you've got the means to do a little traveling WD-50, Alinea and Moto are all doing this style of cooking with a significantly higher level of creativity and sophistication.

                The wine flights were a major disappointment as well, and while I could have understood the difficulty of pairing to the dishes, I can no longer buy that argument as especially Moto and WD-50 had some of the best wine pairings to similar styled dishes. The wine pairings at these two aforementioned places were not only wonderful, but some of the most clever and best pairings I've EVER had.

              2. re: jpschust

                My experience at minibar was nothing short of superb, everything from the inventive food (all of it!) to the pacing was best of class. We took the general advice to order champagne in lieu of the wine pairing, which worked well.

                Most folks on the board are reporting experiences more like mine and unlike jpschust's, which I think points to a possible lesson learned: when "service and interaction with the chefs was stinted at best," it may not be the fault of service and chefs, but rather the fault of the other participants to the interaction. And such poor interaction can account for the perception that the food is less enjoyable than others are generally reporting.

                1. re: Bonz

                  I'm pretty sure that I can interpret the quality of food with or without a level of interaction with chefs. I basically break my experience into two catergories at minibar- service and food. Service is everything from talking with the chefs to the runners dealing with drinks, etc. Food is purely the food. The food was ok, just not that innovative in the world of MG nor does it push any boundaries of MG.

                  I believe that I am strong enough in my knowledge of food to know when I'm critiquing the food and not as much the combination of food + service. The problem here is that for me, someone who has done the MG thing in a variety of restaurants and can speak with some level of understanding of the processes, the food at minibar just ain't that great nor is it that inventive like some clame it to be. Add service barely tip worthy in my experience (though yes, we did tip and we tipped graciously) and you're left with a very expensive dinner missing quite a bit.

              3. My review is a little bit dated, but my experience there was so memorable that I had to share it with you. My SO took me to Minibar for my birthday two years ago and it was wonderful. But be prepared to eat a lot of food. The bites are "mini" but it tends to fill you up after awhile. Towards the end of the 35 courses, I was stuffed. (Full disclosure, I also had a flight of wine, so that might of had something to do with it.)

                I will say be vocal before hand when you make your reservations and when you first sit down about any food allergies (like tomatoes) or preferences (i.e. vegetarian ) because that is the only way the chefs will know that you might not be able to eat some of the dishes and can do their best to accomodate you so you won't be left out of the fun. We were seated with this one couple and the wife did not mention that she does not like to eat (note: not allergic, just doesn't like to eat) soft boiled eggs. Let's just say that the couple was rather rude about the egg and the chefs got pissed b/c they could of avoided the issue if the couple told them about it earlier.

                1 Reply
                1. re: botnot

                  This may have changed since you've been there, botnot, but now when you make reservations there is a contract you fax back with a question about dietary restrictions. I found it very helpful, because I knew that they would take care of our requests. There were a few people in our seating who had different dietary issues--one hated mushrooms, another allergic to pineapple--and the chefs were extremely accomodating. They specifically asked if the issues were allergies or aversions (to avoid any possible reactions) and offered substitute dishes whenever necessary.

                  as to the service, we had a very different experience than jpschust. Our waiter was fine--not especially memorable, but brought us what we needed in a relatively effecient matter. The chefs were wonderful. It took a while for guests to start asking questions, but once everyone did, they filled us in with lots of information about the food, how the dishes work, how they design new dishes. the interaction with the chefs was almost as neat as the food, and one of the reasons i though minibar was so amazing. You've got two chefs, who prep all the food, who make the food in front of you, and who have developed some of the dishes, and only six guests. I can't imagine anywhere else that you get that level of interaction. It was great.