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Aug 7, 2009 07:45 AM

Any place like Mini Bar?

I'm looking for a place in DC that incorporates similar cooking techniques to Mini Bar. It's close to impossible to find a reservation there and I know Andres' proteges must be elsewhere in the city.

Does anyone know another place to go?

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  1. Volt's Table 21 has a number of courses that are very similar. Bryan Voltaggio brother is chef de cuisine at Jose Andres' Bazaar in L. A. which is the only restaurant rated four stars in Southern California by the L. A. times.

    Enzo's Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni has a number of courses which are similar in style:

    I believe that both are better than MiniBar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joe H

      I believe that both are better than MiniBar.
      I second that opinion.

    2. After dining at Table 21 on Wednesday night and minibar in February, I have to say that the experiences are quite different.

      minibar is more on the El Bulli experimental/technical/intellectual side of cuisine where Table 21 utilizes a lot of the so-called "molecular" techniques but the presentation is more traditional and straightforward than the experimental minibar.

      I would not say that one could dine at Table 21 and expect it to be a replacement for the minibar experience.

      7 Replies
      1. re: onocoffee

        Thanks so much. I'll give Table 21 a shot with the expectation that techniques might be similar, but approaches are different. Aren't Bryan and his brother both on the next season of Top Chef? Should be interesting...

          1. re: Gigi007

            both brothers are on the current season of top chef
            have not been to volt and table 21 but the reviews are glowing. It arguably is the top discussed restaurant in the Washington Area even though it is not in Washington but in Frederick. Both brothers are front runners so far on the show

              1. re: globalgourmand

                I'm rooting for him too, but am a bit torn between him and his brother as Mike V. is an awesome chef too! I think the 4 front runners now are the two brothers V, Kevin, and Jenn.

                1. re: Gigi007

                  Yup, I'm rooting for Kevin and Jen too (and Ashley as an underdog.) Mike V. makes undoubtedly great dishes but I get thrown off by his (as perceived by me) arrogance or lack of tact and restraint in his mannerisms. Still, on a food basis, I'd eat his dishes anyday!

                  Still wishing I made a trip out to Frederick when down in that area. I had heard the buzz on Table 21 but passed. Ow!

        1. Within the same restaurant as Minibar, Cafe Atlantico, Jose Andres offers a Latina Dim Sum Brunch on Sundays which has quite a few dishes that have appeared at Minibar as well as other dishes that are Minibar-like. There is a fixed-price brunch of 14 or so items for $35, but has to be ordered by about 1pm. If you prefer, you can also order a la carte, and you don't have to show up quite as early. You can also spend a little less money this way, but that doesn't seem to be your goal. This will be damn close to the Minibar experience.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            I agree with Steve, while Cafe Atlantico is not exactly Mini Bar light, I have found a few things trickle into the dining room at a much reduced cost and the kitchen is the same. I have eaten at Volt proper many times I love it but I have not found it as inventive as MiniBar. Even MiniBar is a twist on the Adria and Arzak menus, perhaps a little more similar to WD50. It's been over ten years since Andres trained with Adria so MiniBar has evolved into a stand alone experience.

            To comment on the brothers Brian in Frederick never trained with Andres or at an Andres restaurant. He is a desciple of Charlie Palmer. Michael has worked in LA at Bazaar the new Andreas spot which seems to be the pefect place to visit to be able to taste some of the items only available at MIniBar on a nightly basis.

            1. re: Trip Klaus

              Volt "proper" is not suppose to be the same as MiniBar. Nor is Table 21. Regardless, several points:

              1. Michael is the CHEF DE CUISINE at Bazaar which is the ONLY restaurant in Southern California (i.e. Los Angeles, San Diego...25 million people) that has four stars from the L. A. Times. Table 21 at Volt is a SINGULAR experience. Sitting in Volt's dining room has absolutely nothing in common with experiencing Table 21. Menu, experience, taste, involvement, excitement (yes, excitement! You are literally in the MIDDLE OF THE KITCHEN at Table 21.) Charlie Palmer Steak? I would not have nice things to say about it: Volt and Bryan have absolutely nothing in common with that experience. Frankly, Table 21 has little in common with the rest of Volt although I must note that I really like Volt. Table 21 is, literally, an extraordinary experience.
              2. Arzak in San Sebastian and Adria at El Bulli in Roses are also two entirely different experiences. I have not been to WD 50 but I have been to the other two. They are literally night and day in their style, presentation and taste. Actually, their concept.
              3. You are not going to have one ounce of the MiniBar experience sitting in the dining room. NOT ONE OUNCE! It is a unique experience to sit at a six person "bar" across from where two "chefs" prepare your "dinner." There is interaction with the chefs, with the other four sitting near you-there is an excitement that you are not going to duplicate sitting in the dining room. On our last visit the couple that we sat next to and talked to for over two hours made a real statement at the end of the evening. The man got down on his knees-in public, in the middle of the restaurant-and proposed marriage!!!! Yes, proposed marriage!!!!

              ...Wow!! I will be talking about this memory in the nursing home!!!! What I must add is that he told me that he tried for months to get a reservation to MiniBar-all the while intending to propose. But he had to wait. Literally, months of calling at exactly 10:00AM and not getting through. But, finally he did. And, his girl friend (his fiance to be) could make it that night. And, we were next to him.

              Please forgive me, Steve, but this was at the foot of the bar of MiniBar which he had waited for. Not the dining room.

              I must also note here that Steve, several years ago, secured the WHOLE MINI BAR! All of it! Seriously, he reserve the ENTIRE MiniBar. And, he put a post on Chowhound looking for people to share this with him! My wife and I saw this, after the fact and, by then, 4,000 people responded to his post, but still, we were really impressed with his willingness to share MiniBar with those on this board. I say all this, again, because please forgive me for disagreeing about the "impact" of the same dish in the dining room versus sitting at MiniBar.

              Volt, which we return to in a month, has no similarities between the two dining rooms (including the Chef's Tasting Room) and "Table 21."

              Arzak and El Bulli? Really.

              Summarily, there are extraordinary experiences available to us-which they are not for most of the U. S. But, again, they are here. Some of these are necessarily expensive. We are not going to replace the actual experience of a Table 21, Enzo's Chef's Table or MiniBar with a considerably less expensive experience in a common dining room. I am sorry to say it like this but, for me, it is true. The actual experience must be had at the source. Not a replicate.

              1. re: Joe H

                I don't think much of Cafe Atlantico for dinner. But the Dim Sum Brunch is an experience in which the food is quite close to the Minibar food, even if you are not sitting at a private bar with two private chefs. The ceviche wrapped in coconut, the pork belly, the raviolis, are dead ringers for dishes prepared at Minibar.

                You do trade in the inventiveness of Minibar at the brunch, but truth be told you probably gain a certain level of deliciousness as most everything on the brunch menu has been better tested. No it's not the same as Minibar, but a delicious idea for someone looking for a substitute.

                For the OP, if you go, ask for the soup of the day. It is usually a highlight.

                1. re: Joe H

                  Joe, you clearly have taken some offense to my response to others who felt that the techniques at Table 21 are similar to MiniBar. The questioner was merely asking for places that use similar techniques. I believe there is no similar experience in DC. To respond:

                  1. While you are correct that Bazaar is a 4star LA Times restaurant it has taken many dishes created at MiniBar and offered them al a carte as well as having it's own MiniBar type special room which is just as difficult to get into as MiniBar.

                  2. Yes, Brian studied under Charlie Palmer not Jose or even Mr. Fukushima. I agree that I have nothing nice to say about Charlie Palmer. However, Michael has worked with Jose and I assume Mr. Fukashima and others trained at MiniBar.

                  3. I have observed the food at Table 21, but I just feel it didn't match the question. I believe the food at Volt is very good.

                  4. I have eaten many times at both El Bulli and Arzak and at many of the Spanish followers around Catalonia, Pais Vasco and Madrid. I have eaten in Arzak's kitchen table and found it one of my best meals. But, to say there is no connection between the two or among the various followers is false. Especially to most people who have an idea but have experienced neither.

                  5. Yes, the questioner will not experience the MiniBar experience in the Cafe Atlantico main dining room, but I have had several items like the cheesesteak sandwiches, the foie gras cotton candy and others when the kitchen was willing and they knew I was interested.

                  If the questioner want's only the experience to watch several really talented chefs make unusual dishes inspired by the great Spaniards before his eyes there is no match in the DC area. However, I agree that Volt will provide a great meal (I don't know the possibility to reserve a single or small place at Table 21).

                  PS. I mean no offense, and hope you accept my opinion in the spirit it was intended.

                  1. re: Trip Klaus

                    FYI not completely relevant but somewhat- Micheal actually had an incredible all tasting menu restaurant at the Greenbrier for a short time called Hemisphere and those of us who got to try it *whew* it was wonderfully, different and creative from the other very traditional Greenbrier food and on a whole other level. My Husband still dreams of this fantastic dessert they had there that was encased inside a sugar sphere, and he is not a dessert man. So with come credit to Jose Andres, but much credit to Micheal himself who did a spectacular job at Hemisphere doing very very creative tasting menus.

                    After I buy my new car I have some major catching up to do with you guys (Eric and Joe), I have yet to be at Teatro Goldini's tasting or Volt's, but am excited for it. It is so cool to see Volt happening in Frederick- a town which has always been kind of a sleepy cute town for us Western Marylanders, but never a big culinary destination, not to say they don't have some good places, but not at that level.

                    1. re: Trip Klaus

                      I'd like to interject that merely because Table 21 and minibar use "the same" techniques, they are still vastly different. Yes, they both use industrial chemicals, hydrocolloids, sous vide, vacuum compression, liquid nitrogen and spherification, but that fact alone does not imply that they are similar or equal experiences - much in the same way that using boiling, frying, saute and roasting implies equal experiences from different restaurants and different chefs.

                      And I'm sorry JoeH, but your post doesn't read very lucid.

              2. This place is great but its much more about the experience then the food. The food is good, but not the most satisfying meal in the city. It is all about talking and asking the chef's questions. The chef's are really great,. As for another experience like that its rare I am thinking that maybe Komi can deliver. but outside of that I cant think of any similar cooking.