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Jul 8, 2009 01:44 PM

Minibar reservations

Can anyone please post RECENT experiences making/getting reservations (or not) at Minibar? Details appreciated! Even if you were put on waiting list and got in, please elaborate on that too.

I know there are a zillion posts about this... and I've read them all. Depending on the year, they say different things about making reservations at Minibar. Some say called slightly after 9AM, some say start calling at 10AM exactly, someone was told 10:30. There's a slight difference between "a month" and "30 days" as well. I don't like to be so uptight about this, but I only have chance (one night only) to go (at least for a few years) and I want to anything I can to better my chances.

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  1. 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."

    1. I've spent the last two weeks listening to their busy signal. Best of luck to you!

      1. Literally walked in the day we wanted and they had two seats available. This was about three years ago.
        probably not the best way to do it I have heard of people calling acouple weeks out and having no problem getting a spot.

        1. I tried once and got put on the waitlist (never got off of it). But on my second try, I got a reservation. Here is how it works. They start answering the phone at 10:00 am on the dot for reservations a month out. So I would urge you to start calling then. If you get a busy signal, don't be discouraged -- keep trying! There are a total of 12 seats (six at each sitting). Once they answer the phone, it probably takes them at least 5 minutes to get all the info -- name, phone #, e-mail, go through cancelation process, ask about dietary restrictions, etc. Once that party is set, they answer the next call. So if the night ends up being six parties of two, then you probably have 30 minutes of calling and hanging up and calling again. After they fill up all of the seats, they will keep answering and put people on the waitlist. There is definitely some luck involved, but be persistant and patient. Best of luck! It's a great experience (the meal, not the reservation process).

          8 Replies
          1. re: WashDC33

            Yes, and try for the later seating if possible - We felt rushed at the earlier one....

            1. re: tommyskitchen

              I honestly believe that Table 21 at Volt is better. Because it has not yet been discovered (it is less than a year old and has received no publicity nor has Top Chef been aired) you can get in. I must also note here that Bryan Voltaggio's brother is Chef de Cuisine at Jose Andrees Bazaar in L. A. which serves much of the same food. No, few have heard of Table 21. But they will. Note the date on this post. A year from now there will be similar posts about the inability to get into Table 21 at Volt.

              1. re: Joe H

                I think that would really depend on how well Bryan does on Top Chef. If he loses and slinks home, then his restaurant stays off the map. If he gets in the finals and shows how talented he is (a la Richard Blais), then he'll get some notice. I think his restaurant will really take off when food magazines write it up as the next Citronelle or Inn at Little Washington. Our pissing into the wind isn't gonna make much difference.

                1. re: Joe H

                  I know Sietsema's not the be all and end all, but he has been giving Volt 'bumps' = publicity. I'll never make it out there and I've heard of it.

                  1. re: hill food

                    There are restaurants that people "have" to eat at. MiniBar, the French Laundry, El Bulli, the Fat Duck, etc. All of them, before they were in and known, were places that begged/hoped for recognition that they were far beyond anyone else's norm. When they received national/international publicity they became "in," they became the absolute destination that one had, must go to. The "last meal on earth" as it where.

                    Often when a restaurant finally receives this recognition it and/or it's chef has moved on. The actual experience isn't what it might have been several months or years before. But for a visitor who might have crossed a continent or an ocean it is a name that a neighbor and a friend might respect for the journey.

                    But that doesn't mean that it is as good as it once was.

                    Today, tonight, tomorrow evening Volt's Table 21 is AS advertised. Next year it could be like several of those I mentioned above. But right now it IS an experience that absolutely delivers.

                    It is worth the drive. Or a flight.

                    1. re: Joe H

                      we can always welcome such places, my non-attendance is entirely geographical and transportation.

                      everything I've heard sounds great, and should I find myself in that area...

              2. re: WashDC33

                Went to MiniBar in February and had a great time - and too much wine. I'm not one to get worked up about getting a reservation, and since I'm terrible at remembering to call at specific times, I just call whenever. To make my reservation, I think I called closer to noon and just asked the nice lady on the phone if they had any openings at all. She offered me a couple of possibilities and I chose the date most convenient to me and the later seating.

                I tend to prefer later seatings because I don't mind staying up late and I also think that since the pressure to turn the seat is off, the kitchen is free to be more relaxed and has the greater opportunity to perform at their highest.

                While I enjoyed the meal at Minibar, it also stirred my thoughts on whether or not I really like these kinds of multi-course tasting menus with high technical execution. While many of them were technically and intellectually brilliant, I don't quite feel nourished in my soul. It's all great food with great ingredients but something is missing. Like we're being too intellectual.

                Not that this is bad, because there's room in cuisine for this kind of interpretation and discussion. I note this because I never feel totally satiated - whether at MiniBar, L'Arpege or Alinea.

                I also went to Volt last month and found the place to be gorgeous. The food was tasty and worth further investigation (especially this Table 21). And perhaps it's because they're in Frederick but I thought the service was a bit disjointed.

                There are literally TONS of staff hovering about, but things seems slightly off. The servers are dressed in suits, but they're ill-fitting and/or poorly tailored, or just made of cheap material. Perhaps not something you'd notice on the street but juxtaposed with the obviously fine dining interior they've designed, the cheap suits scream at you - especially when paired with brown Converse Chucks.

                Perhaps it's unfair to compare a Frederick fine dining establishment to per se (or similar) but it seems obvious to me that this is the level Volt desires to operate and, with that in mind, there are a number of refinements that are missing. Like the hostesses' ability to welcome guests and disguise whatever horror in attire that guest may be wearing - not that I was dressed terribly in pressed khaki shorts, short-sleeved button down and shoes, but I certainly was equivalently dressed to the white guy and his friends in the bar.

                Of course, I can't detach myself from the possibility that the look in the hostess' eyes was because I wasn't that white guy and that if I were white then perhaps I wouldn't have received such a look.

                1. re: WashDC33

                  Thanks to everyone who responded re: my post, and especially to you, WashDC33. I'm moving to Taiwan in about a year, I'm a big fan of Jose Andres, I love the concept behind Minibar, and it just so happens that my bf and I will be passing through DC on our way to a wedding in September-- all these things have compelled me into really wanting to experience Minibar and having only one night to try for. I appreciate your detailed response and good wishes. I'll find out in about 3 weeks if I am lucky or not. I'll stay prepared for disappointment but it can't stop me from trying anyhow.

                  Thanks again!

                2. I've been following a blogger at (she is making her way through the washingtonian 100 best, not a great proofreader but v entertaining) and she has a great tip for this. if you don't mind eating by yourself . . . call and ask for all single seat openings -- they usually have 4 - 6 per month. doesn't work if you are trying to impress a date, but a good way to treat yourself. and since it is basically a communal table anyway, should be a great evening.