my minibar experience: 08/09/07
i haven't posted too too much here, but i loved minibar and thought i'd share my take (you guys might already know a lot of the info):
i FINALLY got to eat at minibar, one of the most renowned molecular gastronomy restaurants in the country. i can safely say it was the best culinary experience so far of my life, and probably in my top five coolest things i've done, too.
securing a reservation is hard. if you haven't been, the drill goes like this: you have to call 202.393.0812 at 9 a.m. sharp. the line is busy 99% time, and when you do finally get through there are usually no seats or one seat left. minibar only does two seatings a night, and only six diners at a time. my friend nemo and i were trying to secure a spot to celebrate our birthdays (his in june, mine in july), so we started calling in may (both of us). i finally scored a spot for august 9th. you can't request a particular date; you are given the date 30 days following the day you finally get through.
parking was a madhouse and nemo just moved out of the city (bummer because he lived a few blocks away only a few weeks ago). i arrived at 8:25 (our seating was at 8:30 sharp) and of course in true nemo fashion his car died and he was late, which was a little scary because they charge you a fee whether you eat or not. (price per person is $130). i sat down and felt awful because everyone was feeling sorry for me and the two chefs were waiting. i finally told them to go ahead, nemo miraculously showed up 10 minutes later and everyone clapped saying "there he is!"
you are literally seated at a bar on the top floor of cafe atlantico, behind which is a mini kitchen and two chefs who prepare your 30ish course meal. most of the dishes are one or two bites. you can do a wine pairing for a mere $40 and you can choose from five different groups of wines. i'm not into wine, but i highly recommend it. however i got hammered so that being said, you will too.
the chefs prepare and then introduce each dish, and you all eat it together and react/discuss, it's great fun. one was really neat (the deconstructed glass of white wine) as the chef challenged us to guess the 11 flavors from right to left and then revealed the answers at the end of the dish. below is a copy of the menu. items in " " are decon/reconstructions, things with a C were my favorites, things with an * i did not like and things with an N after them were nemo's faves.
1st course "munchies"
passion fruit "tequila sunrise"
crispy apples C
tumbleweed of beet CN
olive oil bon bon C
"bagels and lox" N
cotton candy foie gras
curried chicken wing
2nd course "flavors and textures"
salmon-pineapple "ravioli" with crispy quinoa
deconstructed glass of white wine
zucchini in textures N
sun dried tomato salad
egg 63 degrees with caviar C
sea urchin "ceviche"
corn on the cob CN
smoked oyster and apples*
new england clam chowder
breaded cigala with lemon C
"philly cheesesteak" N
3rd course "dessert"
pistachio beets and mixed berries C
4th course "sweet endings"
piña colada injection
i'm ruing the fact that i don't have a copy of the wine pairing group i did, because some of you wine fanatics could help me out there and i absolutely loved my third glass, some chardonnay from france. if you go, i chose the "lively" one.
food is one of my favorite hobbies, and i've been to most of washington's great restaurants. in fact the night before i was at restaurant eve, which seems like a joke after minibar, though at the time i enjoyed it (particularly the mini birthday cake on the dessert menu, pink and sparkled, so cute and delicious).
i highly recommend this to ANYONE who loves food, surprises and being delighted for two hours straight. set your alarm clocks!
we talked with the chefs afterward, and minibar will be closed the first two weeks of september, and then some additional downtime thru the fall/winter for redecoration. will be back on normal schedule by late dec/jan.