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Minibar at Cafe Atlantico

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Three letters: WOW!

Followed quickly by intense jealousy that I have no equivalent in Los Angeles. I recently visited a friend in DC, and our one blowout meal was at Cafe Atlantico's minibar (near the Chinatown/Galleria Place Metro). We'd never experienced molecular gastronomy in any form, and Minibar's 35 course extravaganza was definitely more like jumping into a pool cannonball style rather than dipping one's toes in for a feel.

It's impossible to sum up the range of emotions we experienced throughout the meal: surprise, delight, amusement, anticipation, awe, occassional self-satisfaction when we could decipher what the chefs were doing, and a lot of "mmmm-ing."

About the food my friend had this to say: "Imagine familiar flavors, but the BEST of that flavor you've ever tasted. The best corn, the best clam, the best beef, etc." I will add that these familiar ingredients were deconstructed and reconstructed so as to be sometimes visually unrecognizeable. "Guacamole," for example, was a tube of tomato sorbet rolled up in thin slices of avocado. "New" New England clam chowder included two raw clams, a bed of potato puree, dollops of creamy mousse, and micro garnishes. You begin to see what I mean.

Favorites were hard to identify, but some of mine included:
-Mojito! This was a feat of engineering. A ping pong ball sized ball of carbonated mojito and fresh mint pieces, encased in a light shell of agar agar gelatin. When I put it in my mouth it exploded like the world's tiniest water balloon.
-Cornbread: a pillow of airy dough topped with corn flavored mousse and tiny pieces of toasted polenta
-a plastic pipette filled with pina colada, with chunks of pineapple and candied ginger speared on the thin tube of the pipette.
-cotton candy ball rolled in matcha powder

I would have done the wine pairing if I'd had a fellow wine lover, but two and a half glasses in two hours is too much for me (lightweight, I know). But the Gruet (blanc de noirs?) we had was lovely, and paired well with everything.

Photos and full report: http://www.chezpei.com/2007/09/miniba...

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  1. Thank you Pei. The best write up of Minibar I've read. I encourage everyone to use the link to visit Pei's website and see the photos.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pappy

      This may be the best write up of anything I've ever seen.

    2. Thanks--both write up and pictures are worth checking out!

      1. KUDOS to you Pei ! ....great review
        I can't wait to try this place!
        It sounds INCREDIBLE !