If you know food, then you know Jose Andres. A chef who has basically received every culinary award out there, including being named by The James Beard Foundation at “Outstanding Chef”. Truth be told, I have been a fan of his for many years. In a way, his friendship with Bourdain and Ripert reminded me of some of my close friendships. More importantly, it is my admiration for the man that Jose Andres is that I truly admire. The man who feeds the hungry following natural disasters; named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation… the list goes on and on. Couple that with this man being an amazing chef, when given the opportunity to check out his Two-Star Michelin Restaurant Mini Bar by Jose Andres during my recent trip to DC, it was a no brainer.
Let me start by saying this experience truly is a “once in a lifetime” type of thing. Sure, if you are loaded and have some connections, maybe you have the opportunity to do it multiple times. However, it is not lost on me that for the vast majority, they may never have the opportunity to check this place out. From the limited seating to the cost (extremely pricey), it really is unattainable for many. We were lucky, and fortunate, enough to have this opportunity- and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Minibar is designed to thrill the senses of the diner by pushing the limits of what one has come to expect of food. The talent, techniques and imaginations of the chefs are on full display. It takes over 150 man hours to prepare for dinner service; which consists of two seatings. All in all, when you do the math, to simply prepare for one guest, it takes the Minibar team 4-6 hours… for just ONE PERSON!
When you first enter, you are escorted to Jose’s “living room”; where you prepare yourself for what is to come.
While waiting, do some brief reading:
(Quick rant– did you know Michelin only rates five Cities/Regions in the US? NYC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco/Bay Area and Washington DC. Being from Florida, it is disappointing, but my disappointment is not with Michelin, it is with the Florida restaurants. Do not get me wrong, there are some absolutely amazing restaurants in Florida. But whether it is a Michelin reason for not rating Florida cities or not, I do feel more often than not, the talented chefs in this state play-down to the palette of the diner; when they shouldn’t. Times have changed. More people consider themselves “foodies” than ever before. And so speaking directly to those talented chefs: do not compromise who you are for the customer. I understand it’s hard enough to make a living in this profession, but to compromise your talents as a chef will have a longer and lasting impact. Cook your food. Showcase your talents. Diners will come…and perhaps Michelin will follow. Just my thoughts anyways)
A few minutes later, you are escorted into the kitchen, where you meet the Executive Chef (Jorge Hernandez) and his team. Chef Hernandez has this “bad ass” vibe to him. And lets face it, if you are the executive chef of Minibar, you are a bad ass. But couldn’t have met a more welcoming and hospitable individual. We truly felt that we were at home the entire evening.
The restaurant space is very small. There is a counter that seats 12 and Jose’s Table which seats 6- that’s it. On this evening, we sat at the Counter, for what ended up being 3 of the best hours I’ve ever spent at a restaurant.
Here is the view from our Counter Seat:
I know I know, you want to see the food. Quick note. We had 28 courses. I also had the wine pairing; so as you can imagine, I missed out on capturing some of the entrees. However, at the end of the evening, you get a copy of the menu with everything you had. So I posted a pic of that for reference. Not a wine drinking? They have a mocktail pairing which is unlike anything I have ever seen. My wife went for that, and the drinks are just as imaginative and unique as the food. Several of the dinners were more interested in the mocktails than the wine. So definitely something to look into.
When you have a reservation at Minibar, they make a reservation for you to check out Barmini; which is right next door. At Barmini, you have a majority of the “dessert” and after cordials. Below are some of the sweeter entrees and desserts.
You will absolutely leave full… and quite possibly drunk– maybe even a bit sloppy like the gals that sat at Jose’s Table (no judging at all.. glad they had a good time). But for me, I left with a much greater appreciation for several things. First, a shit ton of respect to the Minibar team. Without a doubt they are culinary geniuses with a work ethic to be admired by the masses (I mean 150+ man hours!!).
An appreciation for food. Yes, of course every meal I have I appreciate as I know there are those who die because they can’t eat. But also for what can be done with the food. No part of the product should be wasted (we had lamb neck for one of the dishes for example).
So for those who read this, whether it is at Minibar, a local restaurant or even at your own home- test yourself, push your limits as a diner, be open to trying new things. Appreciate not only the food you eat, but the hands that prepare it; their story, history and experiences are all part of what you taste.
Just the everyday father giving you his perspective…what you do with it is completely up to you. Eat Well Friends… Cheers!
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“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018”