About Me

Food is one of my many joys in life. It is a common bond I share among my friends and family. Combining food and travel makes it all the more interesting. I enjoy going out for a good meal with friends and family. The array of various cuisines and our fantastic array of produce really makes Sydney such a great city to live in. Blogging is my hobby and my posts on restaurant meals I have had are paid for and not gratis. Any gratis provided to me will always be stated beforehand.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

minibar by Jose Andres (Washington DC)

I first heard of this restaurant when I watched the Washington DC episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. He was having a ball with Jose Andres checking out various food restaurants and joints in DC. This could have been last year or the year before, I cannot recall as time is flying way too fast for me these days.

But I was very impressed with what I had seen and made a mental note to check out minibar (if I ever get to visit Washington DC).

So when I was firming up my group trip to NYC earlier this year and made a decision to visit Washington DC beforehand, I immediately started checking out minibar’s reservations policy etc. I emailed minibar about 2 months ago and was ecstatic that I got a booking!

So what’s minibar like? A food experience like I have never encountered before. Coming from the city of Sydney, you could and would say that we have some great restaurants in Sydney and other parts of Australia (like Melbourne for instance).  But in all my years of dining at all these great places, I have never experienced food like I had at minibar. WOW!

Let me start with the welcome and initiation to the minibar world. Jeff greeted me as I walked into the waiting lounge. The funky furniture made it look so cool. I even sat in a chair upholstered to look like marble. Cool! Jeff then informed me that these are new premises since November 2012. In their previous place, they could only seat up to 6 people. In this new place, seating is up to 12 at any one time. Now that puzzled me, how small is this restaurant I ask myself???

To start the evening off, I had some sparkling wine. A waiter came out with a brown box and presented it on the table in front of me. When it was opened I was informed in it was Puffed Japanese rice paper roll dusted with nori powder and lime zest. Yum!

A few other diners entered the waiting lounge and eventually all 6 of us were ushered into the main restaurant.  I didn’t know what to expect but certainly not this. We were right in the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen! You could say we were sitting at the Chef’s table. We could see everything that was happening in the kitchen and almost all the food were prepared in front of us.

And then, that’s when the adventure started. Plate after plate after plate of interesting, surprising and oh so fun dishes were served to us. The whole kitchen team were involved with the interaction with the guests.

I chose the Virtue list of drinks (i.e. non alcoholic) and can honestly say that the drinks were perfectly paired with the various dishes. How very clever and well thought out.

There were altogether 28 dishes that were served to us that night. So I have decided not to bore the life out of you with every single dish and very single description I can think of under the sun.

What I will do is briefly describe the dishes that stood out and why they stood out.

Asian Coca de Vidrio – beautiful to look at. It was paper light in texture, with an aniseed flavour and a sweet taste. A medley of textures and flavours. Loved it!

Parmesan Leaf – a modern interpretation of cheese and crackers! Yum!

Popcorn Empanada – a burst of flavours in my mouth! Yum to the max!

When pigs fly – when I tasted it I thought of bacon and yet it was made of dehydrated apple meringue. Amazing!

Foie Bomb – this was a dish that had to be consumed very quickly. OMG! What a burst of flavour! One of my favourites.

Waldorf Salad – what you say? Yes, meant to be a salad but apple meringues was in the mix. Textures galore, so clever.

Chicken Shawarma – another of my favourites. There was crunchy and there was savoury. The mousse is meant to be the dip for the roll.

Baby carrots with coconut and curry – super deceiving. I expected to bite into the carrots but instead I had melt in your mouth textures.

Grilled Spot Prawns, Peanut Butter and Honey – the prawns were delicious, beautifully cooked.

Squab liver mousse on oyster leaf – I have never had oyster leaf before. I could actually taste oyster flavours even as I was tasting liver flavours.

Roast Squab with Oyster and Seaweed – The squab was perfectly cooked. The meat was tender and there was a burst of salty flavours from the seaweed.

Dragon’s Breath with Hot Toddy Shot – this was the fun dish of the day. There was no time to take a decent picture. We had to pop in in our mouth quick as! And chew and chew. The result was quite hilarious. One of the chefs took a video of me on my iPhone chewing away. Put it this way, I had smoke coming out of my nose as I was chewing.  I loved it! Not only was it a fun dish but a delicious one too.

Spring Thaw – a burst of mint, cilantro and parsley flavours through this ‘apple’ dish.

Coconut Stick Rice with Mango – it was smooth and creamy. The crunchy texture came from the deep fried rice. The mango was divine.

We then left the main restaurant/kitchen as the next group was about to enter for their session, by this time it was about 8.00 pm. An earlier group had joined an hour after us and were seated at the remaining table of 6 on the other side of the kitchen. And we were shepherded to barmini; this is minibar's sister outlet located next door. We sat together as a group of 6 and got to know each other a little more. That was nice. Four types of petit fours were served and my highlights were:

TerraMisu – hidden under a tray of what looked like dirt (but was chocolatey) were bones. We all got to pick one and it was deliciously made out of chocolate.

Chicharron – Believe it or not, there was pork rind in this together with apricots. So delicious. More please!

I loved every minute of this experience. It was a blast. I wish there was time to say a proper goodbye to the team but we ended up in the barmini so we couldn’t really thank them properly. The whole team were very professional, very keen to interact with the guests, they worked so well together and I would describe their efforts as working like a 'well oiled machine', no offence intended please!

Before I forget, the toilet in minibar is an event in itself. This is one of the coolest toilets I have ever seen and I am not the only one who commented on this. I wish I had my camera with me when I did go to the toilets but….

Would I come back to minibar? I would if I could! So thank you to the minibar team, you guys were great!

minibar by Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

minibar by Jose Andres
855 E Street NW
DC 20004
Website: minibarbyjoseandres.com


Edwina said...

What an experience! Can't wait to hear more about it!

Jeffrey Barrientos said...

Thank you for your kind comments and fantastic pictures Cindy! We will share with our staff!