#2 Minibar (Washington, DC) – Jose Andres’s Minibar takes the #2 spot for its 28 course journey that is extremely creative, fun and delicious. If you consider yourself a foodie, you must go here. Located inside Cafe Atlantico, Minibar is a six-seat bar that specializes in molecular gastronomy, a science that combines chemistry (such as liquid nitrogen) with food. The result is a feast for the senses. More and more chefs are starting to practice molecular gastronomy but no one does it better than Jose Andres, the chef credited for introducing the science to US dining.
My husband and I were lucky enough to dine here on our “minimoon” back in October. Upon being seated at the bar with two other couples, we were greeted by the two chefs who would be preparing our food for the evening, Brian and Ryan. “We would first like to congratulate you for making it here” they said as getting a reservation at Minibar is a nearly impossible feat. You have to call at 10am exactly one month in advance and keep pressing redial until you reach the hostess. My husband and I had 4 phones going starting at 9:58am and we finally got through around 10:10am, only to find out that we were 5th on the waiting list. Somehow though the stars aligned, pigs began to fly, and just days before our trip to D.C. the gatekeeper of Minibar called me saying she had two seats available for us. Hallelujah!
For the most part, the 28 courses consist of small, light bites. Therefore, even though you are eating a lot, you don’t walk away feeling like you just completed a Man vs. Food competition. I won’t list all 28 dishes, even though almost all of them were amazing, but will give you an idea of what the menu consisted of by naming a few of the highlights:
Mojito Deconstructed – Made with liquid nitrogen and served on a spoon.
Cotton Candy Eel – Made with all natural sugar, not the kiddy pink stuff ;).
Dragon Popcorn – As you eat, smoke comes out of your nose. How fun is that?!
Philly Cheesesteak – Deconstructed, served with waggu beef and a delicious warm gooey cheese that is out of this world.
Corn with Huitlacoche – Possibly the most delicious dish I have ever had in my whole life.
Chocolate Covered Bacon – Need I say more?
While the food at Minibar is out of this world, what really makes this experience top almost all other food experiences (including Table 21 at Volt) is the fun interactive atmosphere. The chefs at Minibar actually encourage you to ask them questions. Brian and Ryan are very laid back and hilarious, two qualities that most chefs seem to be missing.
As the chefs prepared 28 courses in a 3 hour period, Brian & Ryan managed to also joke with us, share celebrity stories, answer our food questions and discuss who should be the winner of Top Chef. If you are looking for a quiet romantic evening for a special occasion you should probably stay clear of Minibar.
At the end of the evening, each couple was given a hollow egg shell. When you smashed it open you discovered your check and, if you were celebrating a special occasion, it also included a celebratory note such as “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations”. A clever and fun way to end an exceptional dining experience, it also helped make the check a little less painful to the eye. ($120 per person. Reservations required.)