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Minibar rehash -- long

grendelyn | May 11, 2004 03:04 PM

Last friday night my boyfriend and I went to Minibar for his birthday dinner. I had tried to make reservations ages ago, but there was no availability, so I agreed to be on the waiting list. Lo and behold, Thursday morning I got a call asking if we were still interested. Well now, WHAT A SILLY QUESTION.

We turned up about 10 minutes early, and grabbed some mojitos at the bar (which they comped us on the check I might add.) We were seated with 3 other people. There were two men together and one woman who apparently was quite famous in the restaurant world, as at the end of the meal she was asked to autograph a photo of herself on the cover of Restaurant magazine. I am woefully unaware of these things however, but she was nice enough conversationally, though the staff paid much more attention to her than the rest of us.

This was my first big experience in a "fancy" d.c. restaurant. I am usually the one posting about where to find the best burek or debating the intricacies of every hole in the wall cafe in the Eden center, but when I saw what the other 'hounds had to say about Minibar i just HAD to try it.

The staff did everything possible to make us feel comfortable. They were terribly friendly and answered all our questions. The service was a bit intrusive, but considering 35 dishes were served, it was as good as could have been expected.

Of all the dishes, there were none that we didn't care for. My boyfriend generally takes no interest in food and is completely convinced that overcooked steak, apple sauce, and cottage cheese is the perfect meal. Still, he was fascinated by minibar, and we both ate everything set before us. There were lots of avocado based dishes, lots of things "foamed" and many "deconstructions." I was shocked by one foamed item, I don't remember exactly what it was, but the chef told me rather ominously, "Ma'am, we can foam Just About Anything." Certainly put me in my place. :)

One of his favorites was the mojito spray, which was basically mojito in a spray can. He thought it was the most novel thing he'd ever seen. I really enjoyed the deconstructed white wine, which was fermented grape juice, sort of with the consistency of champagne flavored jello with bits of different flavors (orange, lemon, etc) that you would find in white wine on top, meant to invoke a flight of white wine. I also really enjoyed the deconstructed New England Clam chowder, the many foie gras based dishes, and the egg 147, basically a soft boiled egg dish cooked to perfection. Each dish was a new tactile sensation, many mixing liquids and solids, or putting familiar foods in unfamiliar forms (foamed, frozen, liquified, etc.)

There are really too many courses to even mention, suffice it to say, each one was excellent, inspiring oohs and ahhs. Minibar is a great spectacle, so a good experience for non-foodies like my boyfriend as well. I felt so smug watching him happily chomp on clams and liver and fish roe, things he would wrinkle his nose at anywhere else. Now he's begging me to make him salmon roe and cream cheese in little cones, his favorite course.

To go with our meal, we had the Fun Tasting #2, with a dry brut, a German Pino Gris, a Hungarian Tokaj, a Chilean Merlot, and an after dinner port, all of which went surprisingly well with the flow of the meal. It was a lot of wine, but I really enjoyed seeing my boyfriend enjoy and try new wines. (Again, something he'd never do if I just foisted them on him.)

The whole check with the two wine selections (4 glasses each) and dinner came to $224, good value for a three hour extravaganza like this.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. It was pleasant, the staff was friendly, and it was just a fun way to enjoy lots of different kinds of food. I would definitely go back, as would my boyfriend who announced "If we ever break up, i'm taking all my dates here!" which I suppose is a ringing endorsement. :)

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