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minibar

I have plans to eat at minibar for a couple of birthday celebrations coming up.
I have read both good and bad posts about it but was wondering if anyone has been there recently and had any comments to share
Thanks

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  1. Minibar was included in the restaurants featured in WETA's program about fine dining in the DC area. Something Andres said may help you put the posts here in context. He said he was trying to achieve an "oh!" moment. A moment when each diner is startled by some aspect of the dish. He even said that some diners wouldn't like all the dishes, but that he wanted them to experience a bit of surprise with each course. So, here's my recommendation: If you'd like to experience innovative cuisine that uses new technology to push the boundaries of food... If you're willing to eat a single bite of approximately 26 different dishes in contrast to eating regular-sized portions... If you're willing to be disappointed by a couple of the dishes... If you're willing to treat the act of eating each course as something of an adventure as you get instructions on how to consume many of the courses or figure out unfamiliar utensils... then you ought to follow through with your plans to eat at Minibar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      I went in January and thought it was amazing. You need to be adventurous - very little meat beyond fish, unfamiliar ingredients, etc. But I thought the experience was so much fun and so unique, and liked almost every dish. It's probably the most memorable meal I've ever had.

      1. re: Indy 67

        Indy's 67's comment is perfect. Minibar is spectacular, but the surprise and the newness is as exciting as the food. All the showmanship serves the food -- for example, an edible wrapped candy -- a sweet wrapped in clear sheet that looks like plastic but melts in your mouth. Also, talk to the chefs. When we asked, they were happy to explain how things were made. They even emphasized that some things were doable at home.

      2. I've read that at the time of your reservation you can tell them of any food foibles that they should know about too and they will accomodate. Haven't had the pleasure though, but someone else may be able to confirm this.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MsDiPesto

          I don't know how picky you can be, but you are correct--when we made our reservation they sent a form to confirm any food allergies/aversions and also to check whether we're celebrating a special occasion (which we are--our 2 year anniversary). My husband and I are going next Wednesday so I'll definitely report back.

        2. It's a total food "experience." That being said, everything I had wasn't the "best" thing I've ever eaten, but they all made us say "How did they think of that?" It was like dinner and a show. Lots and lots of fun. Truly an experience!

          1. Ok so Fiance told me to get a reservation (after my bar exam) and we will go, so my question is how far in advance did you start trying to get a reservation and how difficult was it?

            5 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Incredibly hard to get a reservation - there are only a handful of seats, only 2 seatings each night, and it's not open 7 days a week.

              From their website:
              "Reservations for minibar are taken a month in advance. That is to say, if you want a seat for the 15th of March, you would need to start calling on February 15. Please be advised that the demand for minibar by josé andrés is very high and seats are often booked up the day they are opened for reservation.

              The reservation phone line for minibar opens at 10 am. For greatest chance of success, we recommend calling as close to 10 am as possible.

              You will require a credit card to guarantee your reservation. To reserve, please call Café Atlantico at (202) 393-0812."

              1. re: DanielK

                Thanks for the info. I knew it was hard I am hoping though I have phone line luck. I can't start calling till there is a month till the bar exam is open, so it will be a study break :)

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I believe it took my boyfriend a month and a half of daily calling.

                  1. re: bylinemjf

                    call the very minute of 10 AM.

                    I got in once before it became so acclaimed by calling at about 10:10 AM and had to take the early seating for either Friday or Saturday (can't recall) in the absolute dead of August and that was about 4 years ago. I can only imagine what booking is like now.

                    I eat late, but given the lengthy parade, my usu. dinnertime came by a little past the halfway point. I actually preferred the early seating in retrospect. Chefs were still fresh as were my tastebuds.

                  2. re: ktmoomau

                    I made reservations a year ago and started calling immediately at ten. I made it through the first day I tried (maybe because I was trying for a Tuesday?), but didn't have my choice of seatings.
                    The meal was worth the effort and the money.
                    good luck

              2. Does anyone have any sense of how often the minibar menu is updated and/or how current the online menu is? This report from nearly a year ago looks pretty similar to the current online menu ->
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/445494

                1 Reply
                1. re: Frodnesor

                  I asked this question when we were there for our anniversary (May 28). The chefs wouldn't give me a clear answer but said "it is constantly evolving". Apparently they use their days off (Sunday and Monday) to experiment with new menu items. I did ask how soon they would recommend coming back...while they have a few "regulars" (i.e., many times a year) they suggested once a year, and mentioned that a majority of the items will be new at that point in time.

                2. Well the phone gods must like me because I called for my first time today and got a reservation on my very first try. And it is close enough to all things we will be celebrating to be a great celebratory special dinner, so I am really looking forward to it!

                  1 Reply
                  1. minibar - 7/9/08

                    I had the good fortune to score a solo reservation at minibar the past week. Some of the detail here will be repetitive of other posts, if bothered please report it to the Department of Repetitive Redundancy Bureau (be sure to file your form in triplicate).

                    Seating is sushi-bar style, with six stools in front of a glassed counter, behind which is the prep area for 2 chefs. For such “high-tech” cooking, the set-up is remarkably primitive, with a couple portable burners, an immersion circulator, possibly a fryer (couldn’t see what was underneath the counter), a blender, some iSi canisters, and not an awful lot else. One of the chefs said that the space was never intended to be used for cooking, and there’s only power running to one side of the roughly ten-foot prep space. Like in a sushi bar, each dish is handed over or placed on the top of the bar by the chef for the customer to take. Aside from the food, the immediate, interactive nature of the experience is also unique – even though a lot of the prep obviously happens in advance, and much of what happens before you is more plating than cooking, it still makes for a certain intimacy to see your dishes prepared before you and have a chance to talk with their creators. It certainly makes it more fun, something which I’ve always seen as a key component of this style of food.

                    I was there for the early (6pm) seating and the chefs quickly dove into prep work for the first dishes. There are 25-30 dishes in all, most of which are 1-2 bites, and they give you the menu at the end. The menu is divided into “Munchies” (almost all 1-2 biters, and all eaten with fingers or off toothpick-type devices, no utensils), “Flavors & Textures” (somewhat more substantial dishes, though still generally in the range of typical amuse bouche portions), then “Dessert” and “Sweet Endings”.

                    MUNCHIES –

                    “Nitro” Sangria – as we arrived (all 6 diners are gathered downstairs at the bar and then brought upstairs in one unit to begin the meal at the same time) they were starting to whip this one up in a blender, a red sangria made into a “slushie” using liquid nitrogen, with a garnish of a partially frozen cube of watermelon. Cute but a little too much like a Fat Tuesday frozen margarita for me.

                    Beet “Tumbleweed” – a nice little salty snack, criss-crossed threads of beet (must be cut on a mandoline) fried and shaped into a little ball. Like a high class “Terra Chip”. I could eat a bag of these.

                    Parmesan “Pringles” – parmesan crisps, shaped just like “Pringles”, served with an onion-infused yogurt dipping sauce. Chips and onion dip! Tasty, a novel recreation of a familiar dish, though the chips were a little lacking in structural integrity to do any serious scooping. The Pringles reference I found particularly amusing in light of this recent story about Proctor & Gamble (their manufacturer) vehemently denying that Pringles are in any way, shape or form potato chips (in order to avoid paying European taxes) ->
                    http://blogs.menupages.com/southflori...
                    Both references to and actual use of mass-market processed foods abound throughout the menu, a trend which I have mixed feelings about. I don't so much mind the re-creations, I'm less enamored with the use of actual processed food products unless they really taste great. Maybe I'm just not enough of a junk food junkie. As another example, Graham Elliot Bowles is doing a risotto garnished with Cheez-It crackers and dishes w/ Budweiser foam at his new eponymous restaurant in Chicago.
                    http://www.grahamelliot.com/

                    Olive Oil “Bon-Bon” – a beautiful presentation, looking like a tiny glass bubble with golden liquid encased inside, presented on a square glass stand. The bubble is made from isomalt (a sugar-like substance) into which olive oil is dribbled through a straw. Excellent grassy spicy olive oil, a little hint of sweet, and also salty (don’t know if the salt is added to the oil or to the isomalt), as the bubble shatters inside your mouth. Very cool.

                    “Mojito” – a spherified and carbonated mojito, presented as a half-dollar-coin-sized orb in a Chinese-style soup spoon. The spherification technique I’ve seen before (put some sodium alginate in the flavored liquid of your choice; drop into a water bath supplemented with calcium chloride; through the wonders of chemistry, the liquid forms a spherical casing around itself, making a liquid-filled orb; or switch the calcium chloride and the sodium alginate and you have yourself some reverse spherification), but the carbonated effect was new to me. They do it by making the spheres, then putting them into an iSi canister to add carbon dioxide. Clever technique, interesting sensation. This was a particularly big hit among the 20-ish group down at the other end of the bar.

                    “Bagels and Lox” – a cone (made from a bagel chip? I dunno), filled with herbed cream cheese in the bottom and salmon roe on the top. I’m just assuming this is a play on the iconic Thomas Keller salmon cornets from French Laundry.

                    Blue Cheese and Almond – an almond shell, almost like half of an eggshell (made from an almond paste that’s quick-frozen w/ liquid nitrogen in that form), filled with a blue cheese mousse. This one didn’t do much for me.

                    “Dragon’s Breath” Popcorn – a ball of crushed and reformed popcorn, lightly spiced and dipped in liquid nitrogen so it comes out smoking. When you put it in your mouth and eat it, and breathe out your nose (as the chefs instruct you to do), you expel the nitrogen “smoke” from your nose. A good trick for parties if you happen to have some liquid nitrogen around.

                    Boneless Chicken Wing – chicken wings are "confited," then the bones are extracted while leaving the meat intact (a task which has got to be difficult, and given the reaction to my inquiry how they did it, is probably not the cooks’ favorite), spiced with a deeply flavored curry blend, and finally sprinkled with a little sugar and bruleed with a blowtorch before serving – an excellent final touch.

                    Steamed Brioche Bun with Caviar – I thought this was particularly delicious. Balls of brioche are steamed in a bamboo steam basket, Greek yogurt flavored with lemon is piped inside, then the ball is topped with a dollop of caviar and a little crown of lemon “air” (a very light foam) on top. Presented in an adorably little single-serve bamboo steamer. The brioche bun was reminiscent of a Chinese dim-sum steamed bun, but with a lighter, more elegant texture. Great balance between the yeasty bread, the lemon tang of the yogurt, and the salinity of the caviar. I cannot imagine anything that would be better to nibble with champagne.

                    Cotton Candy Eel – barbecue eel, wrapped in a shiso leaf, then wrapped in a spin of cotton candy. Really good. Even made some believers of non-eel-eaters who were at the bar that night.

                    FLAVORS & TEXTURES –

                    For the first time in the meal, you are given some eating utensils. And they’re pretty cool – two small implements, about half the size of a normal utensil, each with a fork on one end and a spoon on the other (a spork for the new millenium!). You can choose which end you use, or use both, with the fork end of one and the spoon end of the other for scooping or cutting. On to the dishes ->

                    Green Almonds & Pedro Ximenez “Raisins” – unbelievably, mind-blowingly delicious. Fresh young almonds, still a tiny bit soft, served with a drizzle of Marcona almond milk, “raisins” made from PX sherry, and sea beans. The green almonds were an item I’ve never had the chance to try before, and they’re available only a few weeks of the year. The PX raisins were a brilliant twist. They take 1971 Pedro Ximenez sherry, use spherification to make it into little balls, and then dehydrate the balls to make “raisins.” Brilliant! The dish was like an elemental, platonic ideal of a white gazpacho. Simply one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. Chef said they only serve this the few weeks of the year that the green almonds are available.

                    Zucchini in Textures – a round shallow dish has on the bottom a layer of garlicky zucchini puree; above that, a layer of “hand-picked” zucchini seeds (a slightly pained expression from the chefs suggests this task is right up there with boning out the chicken wings), then on top of that a translucent zucchini gelee (which I believe is made from the water released from salted zucchini used for the puree). Good flavors, but this is the one dish that I felt there was actually too much of, rather than leaving me hankering for another bite.

                    “Caesar Salad” – an “organized” caesar salad, with shredded romaine (and possibly bits of crunchy crouton, and anchovy) wrapped into two cylinders held together by a “wrap” of thinly sliced jicama (not a traditional caesar element, but used because of its neutral flavor per the chefs), one cylinder topped with a raw quail egg yolk, the other by shredded parmesan cheese; underneath a pool of traditional caesar dressing; around, a few puffed “croutons”, crispy outside, hollow in the middle. Elegant presentation, not particularly novel flavors.

                    Parmesan “Egg” with Migas – a clever and tasty dish. Parmesan water (parmesan simmered w/ water to get the flavor into the water) is spherified with a quail yolk dropped into the middle of it, so that the parmesan forms the “white” of an egg and the quail yolk serves (doh!) as the yolk, and then cooked in the immersion circulator to 63.5C (the ideal temp for a runny barely cooked egg yolk). The parmesan “white” perfectly duplicated the jelly-like consistency of a whole egg cooked in the immersion circulator (which some folks don’t love, though I do). Accompanied by toasty migas (shredded, lightly spiced bread) to soak up the egg. I would have loved some Serrano ham or prosciutto with this in some form.

                    Corn on the Cob – a baby corn, skewered on a corn holder, smeared with a little corn puree (or creamed corn, if you will), and sprinkled with crushed corn nuts. Cute but didn’t register that high on the flavor scale for me. Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and its analysis of the incredible dominance of corn in the U.S. diet, but this dish seemed laden with deeper significance as a result (though that didn’t make it taste any better).

                    “Guacamole” – very thinly sliced avocado is shingled and laid out on plastic wrap (prepped in advance); a line of tomato sorbet is piped across the shingles, and then they are rolled maki-style into a long tube, garnished with a sprig of micro-cilantro (lots of micro-herbs are used here, and the chefs said they are growing 20+ varieties of herbs on the roof to supply the restaurant), tiny brunoise tomatoes, little bits of lime flesh, and crumbled fritos (more processed food). Actually tasted more like a gazpacho than a guacamole to me, given the prevalence of tomato flavor, but good in any event.

                    Salmon-Pineapple “Ravioli” with Crispy Quinoa – not quite a ravioli, rather pineapple is sliced super-thin and then wrapped around a cube of salmon (2 cubes of salmon comprise the dish), and given a sprinkle of crispy quinoa on top. This one didn’t excite me so much.

                    Watermelon 3 Ways – I got this in lieu of the smoked oyster and apple dish, as I’m not supposed to eat raw oysters. Three cubes of watermelon, each with a different garnish – one with balsamic (I believe), another with a “filet” of tomato (Jose Andres’ technique where he scoops out the seed pocket intact from the tomato) well salted, a third with a sprinkle of shredded parmigiano reggiano. I was jealous of those getting the oyster dish.

                    New England Clam Chowder – this did not get the double-“new” “New New England Clam Chowder” designation on the menu that I’ve seen them use elsewhere, though the execution was the same. The base of the “chowder” is a fairly thick potato foam, which is topped with two barely poached clams, two dots of a lighter clam foam (probably flavored with the liquid thrown off from cooking clams), some bacon cream, and a swirl of herb oil, with some crispy potato bits on top. Absolutely delicious while also being a fine deconstruction of a classic dish.

                    Breaded Cigala with Sea Salad – A cigala is apparently like a langoustine, here the tail is sautéed, then topped with a thin crispy sheet of some sort of toast (not truly “breaded”), served with a foamy sauce made from a reduction of the heads and bodies (one of the greatest flavoring agents in the universe), and some sea beans and also a sheet of some sort of seaweed or kelp (kombu?). The cigala was sweet and delicious, the sauce like “essence of seafood”. Really good.

                    “Philly Cheesesteak” – very thinly sliced rounds of wagyu beef are briefly torched, then laid atop a puffy hollow “roll” into which is piped a warm cheese sauce. The cheese sauce is prone to squirt out, so you really almost have to eat these like the real deal, elbows out, head tilted, so you can try to catch the drips in your mouth while not having them land on your shirt (I mostly succeeded).

                    Dessert ->

                    Frozen Yogurt & Honey – Another knock-out dish for me. Greek yogurt is frozen and powdered using a Pacojet, topped with powdered honey, swimming in a pool of honey and olive oil, a few springs of mint on top. It’s hard to get more elemental than milk & honey but this was just a beautifully flavored dish with wonderful intriguing textures. There’s some salt in here too to create a great contrast of salty and sweet. Another of the highlights of the meal for me.

                    Thai Dessert – A real crowd-pleaser, with a variation on the condensed milk and peanut flavors of “Thai Donuts” or Pa Thong Ko. This one comes with creamy coconut ice cream, a sprinkle of curry spices, a sheath of “peanut paper,” chopped peanuts, and a little line of tamarind paste leading to a little sprinkle of cayenne pepper. The chefs suggested taking a tiny bit of the pepper with each bite. Excellent flavors, another great example of bridging the “gap” between savory and sweet.

                    Sweet Endings ->

                    Final plate, a sheet of slate with a few little mignardeses. In the order the chefs suggested eating them: (1) a “mango box” (thin sheet of presumably dehydrated mango, shaped into an open box) filled with white chocolate and a sprinkling of (dehydrated?) black olive, a surprisingly tasty combination; (2) saffron gumdrop w/ edible wrapper, texture somewhere between a fruit jelly and a gummy bear, with a transparent and flavorless wrapper; and (3) chocolate covered corn nuts, the final sweet/savory touch, with a very dark high cocoa content powder over the corn nuts.

                    A word about wine. The wine list has a “carefully selected” list of several ½ bottles (“minibottles”), several choices by the glass, a series of “flights” with themed tastings (though not intended as pairings with the food, which would be well nigh impossible to do with the 25-30 courses), as well as a number of mostly pricier regular bottles. At the downstairs bar before you’re seated, they start talking about drink orders, and sensibly try to steer diners toward bubbly, or in the alternative, Alsatian whites. I had a half bottle of Pierre Peters NV Blanc de Blanc which, at $75, was marked up pretty severely (I don’t know what local retail pricing is like, but this would seem to be in the neighborhood of 2.5x to 3x retail), but made a great accompaniment throughout the meal. When that ran dry I switched with the desserts to a glass of a 5 Puttonyos Tokaji (didn’t catch the name), which was also quite pricey but quite delicious.

                    I thought it was a great meal – pretty much everything tasted really good, with a few real knockout dishes, and the close-quarters, interactive presentation of the dishes does really add to the experience. For those who have never had this kind of “experimental cooking” before, I think the format is a great introduction to it. For those who have, I can offer the following comparison to Alinea, where I ate a couple years ago – I don’t think that the techniques are quite as cutting edge, but I thought the flavors were every bit as good. Indeed, sitting here today I can only remember a handful of the things I ate at Alinea (and there’s nothing that makes me say “I must have more of that!”), whereas I would line up immediately to have seconds of any number of the dishes I had at minibar.

                    To me, that’s the real test of this kind of cooking – new techniques, presentations and formats are all very interesting, but the ultimate question is “Does it taste good?” Or ideally, “Does it taste even better?” For me, just about everything tasted great, and a few – the green almond “gazpacho,” the frozen yogurt and honey in particular – were real knock-outs.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      good god, did you take notes the entire time?

                      2 things rang a bell from a few years ago - the watermelon dish and the de-constructed clam chowder. too bad his liver is out, but the eel and cotton candy sounds intriguing (better than with the foie gras).

                      1. re: hill food

                        Just a few cryptic notes to remind of ingredients or preps. You get to take the menu home with you so I had a cheat sheet (I tried but couldn't independently remember all of the dishes without the menu).

                      2. re: Frodnesor

                        I know on their Web site, they say they are willing to accommodate "reasonable" food allergies or aversions. Do you think the experience would still be worth it for a pescetarian? It seems like a lot of the dishes are vegetarian or fish-based as it is.

                        1. re: WashDC33

                          Absolutely. There were very few dishes in our lineup that had feathers or fur, in fact only the chicken wing and the philly cheesesteak, both of which I'm sure they could sub for.

                          It's interesting that this is one of the guiding principles identified by Adria at El Bulli: "Preference is given to vegetables and seafood, with a key role also being played by dairy products, nuts and other products that make up a light form of cooking. In recent years red meat and large cuts of poultry have been very sparingly used."

                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            second that.
                            when we were there a year ago they substituted a grilled mushroom for the beef on the philly cheesesteak and it was one of my favorite dishes. They were doing a cotton candy foie gras (as opposed to the eel you describe) then and they subbed avocado.
                            There were a couple of hoops to jump through--writing down specifically what we needed subbed, getting a call from the chef the day before--but it was completely worth it. There were others at the seating who had aversions or allergies, and the two chefs working went over them again with us when we sat down.

                            1. re: nc213

                              Great to know. Thanks! Now I just have to work on getting a reservation :)

                        2. re: Frodnesor

                          I've had about 1/3 of that menu and I haven't eaten there in at least 2 years. It may be 3. In fact I ate there the first or second week they were open and had a few of the same things.

                          I've also eaten at Alinea & I don't think the restaurants are at all comparable. The food at Alinea is on another level, both in terms of technique & sophistication. The ingredients Minibar uses are second rate too.

                          1. re: brooklyndude

                            Of course they're comparable, though that doesn't mean one will always compare favorably with the other. I would agree that the level of experimentation and conceptualization is on a higher plane at Alinea.

                            One thing I found to be a bit of a downer at Alinea, which I didn't find at minibar, is the tendency to take oneself a bit too seriously. There's clearly a big element of whimsy and fun going on in Achatz's food, but it was tough to get the servers to crack a smile even when they were bringing out dishes on bobbing antennae or on pillows of scented air. Eventually we were able to get them to loosen up a bit, but it took some effort.

                            There was nothing second rate about any of the ingredients in the dishes I had at minibar, though only a couple of the dishes really called for anything out of the ordinary (the caviar on the brioche bun, the wagyu beef on the philly cheesesteak). The green almonds were something I'd never had a chance to try before and all the herbs were home-grown. I don't recall anything particularly astonishing about the quality of ingredients from my meal at Alinea - not that they were bad by any means, only saying that's not what particularly made any impression.

                            1. re: Frodnesor

                              I don't know, if I were bringing out dishes on pillows of scented air I'd be laughing wildly -- all the way to the bank.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                I agree with you about the service at Alinea but didn't really mind it. The guy that waited on us knew a lot about he wine he was pouring us.

                                A few of the things that I had at Alinea (beef, roe) were really first rate. The ingredients that the Minibar uses are not at the same level as those that Citizen or Citronelle use, hence the second rate appelation.

                            2. re: Frodnesor

                              As a note for those wondering about variety - I ate there in January and it's the same menu save 4-5 dishes.

                            3. When I was there in April, the chefs said that the menu constantly evolves (little changes to each dish) but rarely changes drastically.

                              It's not going to be the best meal you've ever had. Some of the dishes miss the mark, but it may be the most fun eating experience in D.C. Compared to other top restaurants utilizing progressive techniques like Schwa in Chicago, the Town House Grill in Chilhowie or Komi in Washington, D.C., Minibar is just a step below. It still makes for a wonderful meal though.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mkbrew

                                That place in VA looks really interesting, although I don't know when I will be in the area and are more likely to travel to McCrady's or Schwa. I agree with the above but wouldn't say Komi is trying to use the same kind of techniques. I agree that it is a much better restaurant than Minibar and the food is innovative.

                                1. re: brooklyndude

                                  I have dined at both McCrady's and Schwa and I personally feel that the Town House is on an entirely different level. Right now it is my favorite restaurant. I have made the drive from D.C. to eat there 3 times in the last 5 months. It is quite extraordinary.

                                  1. re: mkbrew

                                    Thats high praise. I may have to get down there.

                              2. So now that I had my minibar experience I thought I would report:

                                It was a meal that was perhaps the most fun. I don't know unless you are really into molecular gastronomy that it could ever be the best meal foodwise, but it is a lot of fun, and it is very tasty. Many things do have a neat Oh! factor, and so many have some really good flavors that really come together so well in your mouth.

                                For me there were only two misses: A sea urchin with hibiscus foam, and one other I will have to look at my menu to recall.

                                It is interesting to taste all the different textures and flavors coming together in your mouth to make something taste like something that is a little more familiar to you like guacamole.

                                There were some things that were so good, you wanted to eat more and more, but you knew anything over that taste wouldn't have the same effect, like the Parmesan egg, the Philly cheesesteak, the brioche bun, and the thai dessert, and the honey dessert too.

                                The carbonated mojito was such a burst of bubbles and flavor into your mouth it is almost hard not to spit it out just as a gut reaction to the pop of the bubble in your mouth. It was good, but luckily I saw Fiance almost spit it out before I ate mine. And Fiance who doesn't like certain ingredients really enjoyed them as part of the bigger flavor, and as an experience. He normally doesn't really like avacado, but liked the guacamole, he wasn't crazy about the blue cheese almond as he doesn't like blue cheese, I liked it so much I almost stole his second half. But I was impressed at how much he enjoyed the whole experience.

                                Overall I think it is something any real foodie would enjoy. You can't go in unless you are willing to try anything they put in front of you and you have to enjoy it for the experience as much as the food, because while it is really good, the experience is what makes this place a destination. I loved it. It will be a memory that I will always have. It was as much fun as a memory as some of our favorite meals that we have considered the best meals we have eaten.

                                Another note on wine: I don't drink a lot, I just don't, 3 glasses of something if not spread out over a pretty long time when I am well fed and I am done. We had a glass of cava waiting to be seated, and they have a cocktail as the first dish, we then got a half bottle of champagne, and that was plenty for me, if not a little more than plenty, but luckily since the meal is pretty long, I could nurse our champagne, and Fiance drinks a little more so it worked out well. If you are a light drinker like me I highly suggest the mini bottles of champagne. They have some nice choices , the champagne works well with all the different foods you will eat, and it complements all the textures well and they pour it well so it lasts throughout the evening, but you aren't drinking a lot.

                                My menu was extremely close to the one above, I will post the few differences later as it is in my other purse.

                                But if you haven't gone and you can swing it, it is a really fun memory, that is great for a special occasion, as it is something you won't forget soon, and it really is just so much fun.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                  I eagerly await the rest of your review. A question, how long did it take?

                                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                    Ok instead of the green almond and raisin, we had "sun dried" tomato salad- this used the "fruit" from the inside of the tomato, no flesh, with vinaigrette. It wasn't a big hit with me, but I am not a big tomato seeds person.

                                    In the flavors and textures the other dish I wasn't thrilled with was a Sea Urchin Ceviche with hibiscus foam, this ended up being tangy, and I didn't not like the texture of the dish.

                                    I had the smoke oyster which was really good, it had a great smokey taste, and the oyster was really fresh, I really liked this.

                                    We also had an added pre-dessert which was a kumquat with pumpkin seed oil- I liked this it was fresh, but the pumpkin seeds tasted like what you have at halloween, but better, it kind of rounded out the kumquat taste it made it more nutty, so the sweet and nutty crisp taste of the seed, really balanced the flavor.

                                    We obviously either had a couple additions from the number of courses from the previous poster or he missed a few on his review perhaps because he really detailed most of what we had. The rest was the same, I think the items still evolving where some of my least favorite, but obviously so as the are still working them.

                                    I think it was probably around 2 hours, we were seated at 8:30, and I want to say we were home before 11:00, but I am not exactly sure. It actually was timed pretty well, you were never really waiting around for food long, there might be a few minutes in between watching them cook, which you could use for well timed bathroom breaks, or talking with the chefs. But there was never more than a few minutes break, it all just kind of kept coming.

                                2. I was there for my 50th birthday in May. It was a very unique evening. The 28 or so courses are all the size of a serving spoon and very different, almost like a mad scientist cooking class. Some of the dishes were delicious, some just bizarre, but all very interesting especially if you are a foodie. I think at least for me, it is the type of place you go to with friends once in a while but I would not go there more than once in a short period of time. It only seats 6 people for 2 sittings a night for 2 nights per week. Have fun!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: dining with doc

                                    tried to make a reservation today. Started calling at 10, didn't get thru by 10:05 and stopped. Should I have kept calling? Instead of blowing a couple of hundred bucks on dinner, I bought tickets for La Traviata instead. Will wait a couple of weeks and try again.

                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                      Started calling at 10. Got through about 2 minutes later, was then put on hold for 10 minutes, we got the last 2 seats for the night.

                                      1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                        have you been yet?
                                        if so, how was it for you?

                                        1. re: dining with doc

                                          Interesting and somewhat gimmicky. I've had molecular gastronomy (WD-50, Alinea, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon) but this is at a different level. The food is extremely creative but flavor is almost an afterthought. Fun, unique, educational but not necessarily tasty. It's the type of place that you definitely have to experience it at least once but you might not want to go back.

                                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                            Interesting that my impression was rather different. I've eaten at many of the same places (Alinea, L'Atelier) and while some things are certainly gimmicky (i.e. the "dragon's breath" popcorn) I thought the flavors of several dishes were outstanding. I would happily go back just to get the curried chicken wing, the brioche bun w/ caviar, the green almond dish, the clam chowder, the cigala, the yogurt & honey dessert, the thai dessert ... with none of these dishes would I have remotely considered the flavors to be an afterthought.

                                            I found Alinea to be much more "conceptual" (and less fun and, to some degree, less delicious) than minibar, though that may have been partly due to the fact that the service when I was there was pretty stiff and formal (I understand that's changed some). Let me put it this way - of the dishes I had at Alinea, I can recall several and overall the meal was a great experience and the ingredients were probably higher quality, but if you asked me "What dishes would you want to have again?", the only thing that jumps out to me is the "hot potato cold potato," vs. several from minibar. For whatever that's worth.

                                            Incidentally, while I think the food is outstanding, I don't put L'Atelier in the same category as far as "experimental cooking" or "molecular gastronomy" or whatever you want to call it. I've been to the Vegas one a few times now and both the ingredient combinations and the cooking methods strike me as pretty traditional (just really, really well done).

                                  2. i've never been, but saw andres early early early this am on sugar rush program (with the cake love guy). i concluded that andres is in the best spanish tradition of surrealism. his art is also food. (more art than food in my book, but cool conceptual art).

                                    1. Anyone been lately?

                                      Same price? Same dishes? Same 1 month in advance reservation?

                                      1. how much does a night for 2 at minibar run anyway?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cotter77

                                          $250 for just food - with tax and tip, over $300. Add drinks and you're looking at $400 or more.