Set at a six-person bar on the upper level of America Eats Tavern, Minibar is a restaurant within a restaurant. It is also consistently one of the highest rated restaurants in DC - usually within the top 5! It is just as much theater as it is dining while you interact with the chefs and watch them prepare a parade of tiny, one-bite dishes that are clever, whimsical, and above all - delicious.
Our chefs (Cherise, Edwin, and Angel) started us out with a "cocktail" called the Oaxacan Snowball, which we were told to pick up with our hands. This frozen ball had an amazing fluffy texture and a citrusy flavor - like a Margarita or Pisco Sour.
Next, we were presented with this little box. Oh, the mystery! What could be inside?
This hidden gem was a "golden nugget" - crunchy (but light) on the outside and filled with black garlic that tasted like molasses and balsamic - think savory Ferrero Rocher.
This beauty was a tiny PB&J with a crisp outer crust that gave way to a molten center.
Sea Bean Tempura with a tangy tamarind sauce.
This was one of my favorites - "almond tart with blue cheese". The shell (which taste like Foie) was flash frozen in liquid nitrogen so that it melts immediately in your mouth, and was filled with a fluffy whipped blue cheese and a little fruit jelly. The flavors just exploded - it was amazing. We got a little cheek from the chefs too: "Please don't eat the rocks."
Time for another cocktail! This was a mojito frozen in the shape of a leaf. That pedestal is actually a little silver flip-flop - cute!
This "oyster" was actually a chicken oyster (a hidden little knob of dark meat near the thigh of a chicken), prepared in a traditional mignonette, and topped with an oyster leaf (which tastes like oysters).
"Since we tricked you on that last one, we will give you some real oysters." Thanks, chefs! These raw oysters were exposed to applewood and thyme smoke just long enough to impart a smokey flavor.
Cont... The oysters were then released from their smokey cage and topped with a savory sauce and a foam.
"Zucchini in Textures' - three layers of zucchini prepared in different ways for a rich depth of flavor that I didn't know existed in the staple squash.
"Thai Peanut Soup" - this was really fun to eat (especially on that bizarre plate). A creamy peanut soup with frozen grapefruit, peanut and cashew (?) butters frozen into nut shapes, and various other dabs of flavor.
This was another one of my favorites - a take on chicken shawarma. A ton of different herbs, roasted chicken skin, and a thick chicken sauce were rolled inside lettuce and a potato starch wrapper and served with a delicious yogurt sauce. Super fresh and delicious - this was amazing.
"Fabes con Almejas" (Beans with Clams): these fava beans were cooked in some method that rendered them into a paste - completely delicious with the saffron and olive oil. The clams were large and gelatinous - a little strange, but good.
Another favorite here - "Lobster and Grits". Lumps of steams lobster served with grit dumplings - yum, yum, yum.
Giant Hearts of Palm Raviolo with Bone Marrow - don't remember too much about this one, sorry!
This was another of our favorites - grilled salmon toro with black garlic. So, so tasty. It reminded us of Jasper's favorite salmon belly from Kushi.
Another one for the favorites category (there are a lot, I know). This egg was cooked in a way that replaced the egg white with Parmesan flavored water - fascinating! It was perfectly cooked and so delicious with the super thin toast crisps.
Yet another favorite (we are on a roll!) - "Adam and Eve". This is an apple flavored meringue-type cookie filled with a foie gras and apple cream. Holy duck liver, batman - so good!
This intriguing "pre-dessert" was an olive oil soup with mandarin - a balance of savory and sweet like the previous dish.
Moving into dessert proper we have "Sugar on Snow" - a treat that is popular in Vermont. Maple syrup is poured over shaved ice and hardens into a delicate candy. This version was served with edible flowers and extra maple candy.
Coconut rice with mango - this was my favorite dessert, mostly because the "real thing" is one of my favorite desserts in general! This had awesome coconut flavor with a little bit of salt to keep it from getting too sweet (that's how it should be). The "mango slices" are actually mango sorbet frozen into a wedge shape.
A one bite pistachio "baklava" - again, not too sweet.
"Terra[misu]" - another crunchy outside, liquid inside offering based on the Italian dessert. This was pretty strong on the coffee liquor, but good.
And the last offering (sad, I know) - a collection of desserts. Starting in the front we have a profiterole, then an apple and white chocolate treat with saffron, bacon and chocolate (so good!), and a piece of "fizzy paper".
And that's it! Oh, except for presenting the check in a pretty cool magic trick. We left in a haze of wonderment - satisfied but not stuffed - and dying to go back again!
There are two seatings a night (except for Mondays, when they are closed) which means only twelve spots, so reservations are obviously hard to come by. You must call at 10AM exactly, one calendar month in advance and hope that you are one of the lucky few to make it through. So plan ahead, have several nights that you are willing to go, and keep calling until you get a spot!