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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

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minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Party Flavor » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:55 pm

It was suggested to me via PM last week that threads like this don't usually get a lot of responses because a number of people here are in faltering relationships and/or struggling financially. If you consider yourself to be in one or both of those groups and as a result are unable to appreciate such threads, please know that I intend no offense in posting them. I've very strongly considered not starting this thread as a result, but I think there remain people here who might appreciate it, some in spite of any circumstances in which they may currently find themselves.

About a month ago, I managed (on my first try!) to get us reservations at minibar by josé andrés, a six-seat "restaurant-within-a-restaurant" at Andrés' Café Atlántico in DC. It's been featured on No Reservations (part 1/part 2) and some have acknowledged it as one of the most coveted reservations in the country. For the third consecutive year, José is a James Beard finalist for Outstanding Chef for his work there.

We decided to make a bit of a foodie weekend out of it. After driving to DC, we stopped at the Old Ebbitt Grill for some oysters and shrimp (and an awesome clam chowder) before making our way to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, where we had to stop and take a few pictures of Julia Child's kitchen:

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That night, it was on to minibar:

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The "menu" is generally advertised as being 25-30 courses and is constantly evolving. It is said that José offers it at cost because it's designed as a labor of love and a testing grounds for creativity rather than as a moneymaker.

The menu provided at the end of the meal offers only minimal titles for each dish. The courses were described to us as they were presented, but we weren't about to take written notes. Unfortunately, 25+ courses and a lot of champagne also make for hazy memories. :oops:

The first section of the menu is called "Munchies." It started with Passion Fruit-Mezcal Margarita, a frozen passionfruit margarita in a hollowed-out fruit:

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Beet "Tumbleweed":

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The Popcorn!!:

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Sea Bean Tempura:

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Tomato Crisp with Anchovy Caviar (so delicate that one has to use the card to pick it up):

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"Ferrero Rocher" (much better than the real thing):

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Bagels & Lox (very reminiscent of the coronets at the French Laundry):

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Blue Cheese and Almond Tart (I loved the almond butter shell, but the combo didn't quite work for me):

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Cotton Candy Eel (not my favorite, but not nearly as objectionable as it might sound):

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Steamed Pita with Avgotaraho (the "pita" was almost like air):

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The next section of the menu was called "Flavors & Textures," which started with one of my favorite courses, Zucchini in Textures (it takes one chef 2 hours to select enough seeds for the 12 diners at minibar's 2 nightly seatings):

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Smoked Oysters with Apples:

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"Guacamole" (the chefs chuckled when recalling how Bourdain wasn't a fan):

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Sea Urchin Ceviche with Hibiscus:

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Organic Carrots with Coconut (the carrots were spherified):

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Fresh Green Almonds with Raisins (a play on ajo blanco):

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Charcoal Salmon Toro with Black Garlic:

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"Tzatziki" (the yogurt portion was briefly frozen, so it was like a shell with a liquid center):

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Note the delicate little cucumbers attached to the blossoms in the dish above. One of the chefs must've spent 10 minutes selecting and preparing them:

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Cigala and Horchata (awesome):

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If anyone has a good source of horchata de chufa, hook a brother up, will ya?

Parmesan "Egg" with Migas (the "egg white" was spherified parmesan surrounding an actual quail egg yolk):

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"Philly Cheesesteak" (one of those dishes you knew would be great from the moment you saw it):

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The night's "Pre-Dessert" was Kumquats and Pumpkin Seeds (I think the presentation is a little too forced, but the taste is great):

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"Desserts" were "Thai Dessert":

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And Frozen Yogurt and Honey (honey powder - go buy some!):

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The menu ended with a tray of "Sweet Surprises." Mango Box:

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"S'mores" (my favorite of the three):

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Bacon and Chocolate:

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We were then presented with an egg which our waiter smashed to reveal our bill:

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Over two dozen courses, there are bound to be dishes you like more than others, but I was very surprised at how consistent the high notes were. Between that and the way flavors and textures were combined (as well as the cool interaction with the chefs working the bar), it's a dining experience I'd highly recommend and won't soon forget.

Since it was very near our hotel, we decided to have brunch the next day at another of José Andrés' restaurants, Jaleo. The food there didn't disappoint, either.

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Jamón Ibérico de bellota ‘Fermín’ - From the famous, black-footed Ibérico pigs:

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Huevo pochado con idiazábal, jamon y espinacas - Poached eggs on brioche with spinach, jamon and Idiazábal cheese:

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Huevo frito con arroz, salsa de tomate y bacon - Traditional sautéed rice served with tomato and fried egg:

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Chistorra envuelta en patata frita - Slightly spicy chorizo wrapped in a crispy potato:

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Vieiras con calabaza y clementinas - Seared scallops with butternut squash purée, clementines, and pumpkin seeds:

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Torrijas con helado de vanilla - Sweet soaked Spanish toast with apple compote and topped with homemade vanilla ice cream (order THIS!):

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In our conversation with the chefs at minibar, they also revealed that José is going to be featured on 60 Minutes this week. Apparently Anderson Cooper is very much NOT a foodie, so they found his reactions upon being served some of their creations quite interesting. Having now experienced minibar myself, I can't wait to see it.
Last edited by Party Flavor on Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Norm357 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:00 pm

Thanks for the post. It looks amazing!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Grovite » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:09 pm

Beautiful. When you find yourself in D.C again, try his place Oyamel. It's not on the same level as minibar, but damn those tacos and ceviches are good!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby calkat » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:12 pm

Yes - I love seeing food adventures and appreciate the pics and commentary. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Butterbean » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:13 pm

Party Flavor wrote:It was suggested to me via PM last week that threads like this don't usually get a lot of responses because a number of people here are in faltering relationships and/or struggling financially.


:lol: I fall into both categories, but I thoroughly enjoy these threads. The totality has not yet sunk in, but the photography is amazing. I miss Andres' PBS show, but this brings it back & more. What a wonderful experience! Thanks.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby lunanoir » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:15 pm

I haven't yet been to a molecular gastronomy restaurant, though when a friend is back in town at the end of the summer we plan to go to Alinea (who knows now that it was named one of the best restaurants in the world! Seventh, I think?).

I had dinner last weekend (er no, two weeks ago) at Fearing's at the ritz carlton in Dallas.

Unfortunately, I had a rather.. petulant dinner companion (well, only one of two) who didn't want to be there and who made the whole food fun experience rather lackluster and made it so that I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures of the courses.

We were at a table near the open kitchen and it was a joy to watch the staff work in unison.

It was also my first foie gras that wasn't pate, and while I can't say I fell in love with it because I was very, very full, I can say that I'll try it again. My other (enthusiastic) dining companion said that the one he'd had at Charlie Trotter's was much better.

I'm really intrigued by the dish you didn't care for, with the almond and blue cheese. That sounds like a dream to me. What didn't work about it from your perspective?

(PF, I wondered why you deleted your response to that other thread. I'm kind of shocked that that's the feedback you got. Are you supposed to not do things or be happy because others can't or aren't? Ridiculous.)
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Party Flavor » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:29 pm

lunanoir wrote:I'm really intrigued by the dish you didn't care for, with the almond and blue cheese. That sounds like a dream to me. What didn't work about it from your perspective?


In a nutshell (ha!), the blue cheese overwhelmed the almond butter. There was a very subtle sweetness as the shell started to melt on the tongue, but then the blue cheese kicked in the door, the almond butter split, and the party was over. I love both flavors, but they just didn't work together in that particular bite.

lunanoir wrote:(PF, I wondered why you deleted your response to that other thread. I'm kind of shocked that that's the feedback you got. Are you supposed to not do things or be happy because others can't or aren't? Ridiculous.)


To clarify, the PM sender wasn't suggesting personally that I stop posting such threads, but just (politely) offering a theory as to why so little discussion follows them, which I had asked aloud in my original response to the thread luna mentioned. I don't know everyone's relationship or financial status or how they affect their perceptions of these threads, but the suggestion did make me reconsider posting, lest it be seen as "rubbing it in" or something similar.

Anyway, back to the food...
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Erin » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:14 pm

Party Flavor wrote:To clarify, the PM sender wasn't suggesting personally that I stop posting such threads, but just (politely) offering a theory as to why so little discussion follows them, which I had asked aloud in my original response to the thread luna mentioned. I don't know everyone's relationship or financial status or how they affect their perceptions of these threads, but the suggestion did make me reconsider posting, lest it be seen as "rubbing it in" or something similar.

Anyway, back to the food...

Oh, fie. We are still a food board, despite all the "other" that infiltrates the board. If someone is so sensitive to their own situation that they can't stop themselves from clicking on a fancy food link on a food board, they have the problem, and you shouldn't have to censor yourself. Jesus. *shakes head*

Also? I bunny ADORE this thread. I love your pictures and commentary! I wish I could have been there to try some of this! :D
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby lunanoir » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:17 pm

Erin wrote:Also? I bunny ADORE this thread. I love your pictures and commentary! I wish I could have been there to try some of this! :D


Are you planning to join us if we go to Alinea? We can tag team then :D
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby okbye » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:30 pm

There are two kinds of people in this world, those that are happy for their friends when something good happens to them and those that are only sorry that it wasn't them. Screw the jealous ones.

I like the pictures and commentary too but don't usually reply cuz frankly "Looks good" posted a dozen times seems lame. Maybe we need a "like" button like on facebook so we can approve without having to comment. :lol:
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Erin » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:36 pm

lunanoir wrote:
Erin wrote:Also? I bunny ADORE this thread. I love your pictures and commentary! I wish I could have been there to try some of this! :D


Are you planning to join us if we go to Alinea? We can tag team then :D

Silly girl, you asked me months ago. :P
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Myrealana » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:21 am

Very nice. What an experience!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Nidia » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:25 am

I don't have a palate that it sophisticated enough to enjoy food *that* fancy, but I love the pix and hearing about it. The warm fuzzies knowing that you and Jules are sharing a wonderful experience is icing on the cake. :)
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby n8urebabe » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:52 am

I so want to try that Tzatziki!

I love these threads that you do. The photography, the explanations, your impressions are all interesting to me. Part of the reason why I like them is that I know it is very unlikely that I will ever participate in an event like that. Sometimes, if you didn't explain something, I wouldn't have a clue what I was looking at and sometimes I still have to look something up. I find them to be educational even if I don't flaunt my ignorance by trying to discuss it. :lol:
And not that my opinion on this matters but, I love that you have found someone who can appreciate your passion for great food, that you can enjoy your life with, that you are clearly happy with. And I hope that you will both continue to share some of it with us.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby MightyMom » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:20 am

It's the diversity of topics that make this board the inviting place it is.

Call it....selection. There's a varied 'selection' available here. I enjoy the excursions of others, and the pictures bring the experience to life for me.

From a trip to a fab restaurant.... to the birth of a child,... we celebrate the good, and support each other through the bad, that's what makes this the inviting, diverse place it is.

I wouldn't want it any other way.

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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby carla » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:27 am

Parmesan "Egg" with Migas (the "egg white" was spherified parmesan surrounding an actual quail egg yolk)
and the Philly steak
and and and!

OMG! Just some of the dishes that got me.

I don't have much to discuss; I simply enjoy these threads A LOT! & post my appreciation of them.
(Hell, at this point I won't go away for a weekend, but that sure doesn't change my appreciation of your hedonistic posts!) Each to their own hobby.
Still not sure if Shawn's trip to (was it WD 50?) ever got put in threads we don't want to forget, but I so enjoyed that one too. And your other reports, PF. I'd choose to save 'em on the board.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby DanC » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:53 am

Holy Crap! :shock: looks freakin awesome.

can I come back?
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby aslansavz » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:03 am

Butterbean wrote:
Party Flavor wrote:It was suggested to me via PM last week that threads like this don't usually get a lot of responses because a number of people here are in faltering relationships and/or struggling financially.


:lol: I fall into both categories, but I thoroughly enjoy these threads. The totality has not yet sunk in, but the photography is amazing. I miss Andres' PBS show, but this brings it back & more. What a wonderful experience! Thanks.


+1
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby sadiedog » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:19 am

Oh man! Look at the creativeness and playfulness of the dishes. Love Jose's show too and I think I would really enjoy eating at Jaleo.

Love, love, love. Heh.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby ghenne » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:48 am

n8urebabe wrote:I love these threads that you do. The photography, the explanations, your impressions are all interesting to me. Part of the reason why I like them is that I know it is very unlikely that I will ever participate in an event like that. Sometimes, if you didn't explain something, I wouldn't have a clue what I was looking at and sometimes I still have to look something up. I find them to be educational even if I don't flaunt my ignorance by trying to discuss it. :lol:
And not that my opinion on this matters but, I love that you have found someone who can appreciate your passion for great food, that you can enjoy your life with, that you are clearly happy with. And I hope that you will both continue to share some of it with us.


I feel the same way as n8urebabe. Well said. Since I doubt that I will ever experience a meal like that, this is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby carla » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:28 am

Hey guys? Is "honey powder" anything like Kama Sutra Honey Dust? :D
(I doubt it; I figure Honey Dust is sweetened corn starch. (Yep, glucose & honey, oh well. Honey Dust is very good stuff for both play & regular use. At least it comes with a feather duster.)

Where can I buy honey powder?

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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby ajkdvm » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:43 am

Beautiful pics, PF! :D

Carla, you should be able to find honey powder (which is just dehydrated honey) at any Asian store - it's cheap, and great for sweetening cold tea.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby ghenne » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:50 am

ajkdvm wrote:Beautiful pics, PF! :D

Carla, you should be able to find honey powder (which is just dehydrated honey) at any Asian store - it's cheap, and great for sweetening cold tea.


I am so looking for it on my next trip to the Asian market. Honey powder in my sweet tea, oh yeah. :D Thanks for that tip!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby ajkdvm » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:03 am

You're welcome, Lisa. ;) Honey powder's sweeter than sugar so go easy at first and adjust as needed.

Back to the topic at hand: PF, I love threads like this. It's fun to dine vicariously through your pics and descriptions, and I always enjoy adding to the list of places I want to experience. Keep up the good work! :D
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Jules » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:12 am

PF declined to mention a dish that we were invited to experience at the end of our minibar evening.

The folks seated next to PF were pretty quiet and it was interesting to see the chefs change up the menu to accommodate the gentleman in the couple who apparently had a fish allergy. (The one dish I noticed out of envy was something the chefs referred to as “chicken wings”, where they took three chicken wings, deboned them, and then performed various bits of culinary magic on them. I can’t be specific because I was seated too far from the dish to hear the description – but when they plated it, it looked divine.)

The folks seated next to me had dined at Café Atlántico before, but not at minibar. The gentleman in this couple was … well, my nickname for him became “Question Man”. The very first dish that appeared was immediately met with “so what’s the container this is being served in? Is this a shot drink? How do you make the foam? How was this created? What’s in it again? Wait, how do I eat it?” and the questions continued to come each time. The chefs never lost their cool with all the questions – including serving “Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini” and being met with “so what’s in this?” :think: Eventually Question Man just decided to enjoy the experience without trying to understand every single aspect of each plate.

About midway through the evening, PF asked a few questions of his own. After the Bagels and Lox dish was served, PF commented that the plating was very similar to what Chef Keller had done at The French Laundry. One of the chefs, Brad, must have heard that because from then on, the more detailed descriptions were aimed at us (well, mainly at PF – I just chewed and enjoyed and made “mmmmmm” noises. :wink: ) We discussed AB2s visit, how they have changed their plating of a few dishes while keeping the flavors the same, etc. (Oh, and it’s possible that a swap of cheesecake-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for another reservation was discussed. :whistle: )

At the end of the meal, after we were served with “scrambled eggs” (aka “the bill), Brad turned to me and said “you two hang back” while the others were standing to leave. I noticed that PF was getting ready to stand and I grabbed his arm and said “sit tight”. (I figured that perhaps Brad just wanted to talk real food with PF, after having been so patient with Question Man.) We were given a tasting of “Peas and Ham”, where the ham was a clear, loaf shaped aspic with peas suspended in it. Brad reminded us that the dish was meant to be served warm but asked what we’d thought of the dish. He commented that creating new ways of serving familiar flavors kept the staff challenged and motivated. He also remarked that he knew this dish was not ready for the menu yet, and we agreed that the ham flavor was still too subtle. It already shows signs of being pretty stellar, ‘tho.

As for taking photos at a meal being bothersome for the patrons around you, I have no hesitation in saying that neither of the parties alongside of us minded a bit. In fact, the couple next to PF gave them their email address before leaving, asking to please send them his pictures. For a meal like this, reading “Beet Tumbleweed” or “Guacamole” or “Tzatziki” just wouldn’t do the dishes we were presented justice.

It was a heck of a night ... and yeah, the Torrijas con helado de vanilla? Still can't believe we didn't order another one of those.
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby DitsyD » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:31 am

I always appreciate when you take the time to share your meals (or cooking) with us. I sometimes don't respond because I am taking the time to digest :wink: what you've shown and described.

Sounds like an awesome time. And they get TWO seatings in an evening, with all of those courses? Wow.

That beet tumbleweed is so darn cute......
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby Erin » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:33 am

Jules wrote:PF declined to mention a dish that we were invited to experience at the end of our minibar evening.

The folks seated next to PF were pretty quiet and it was interesting to see the chefs change up the menu to accommodate the gentleman in the couple who apparently had a fish allergy. (The one dish I noticed out of envy was something the chefs referred to as “chicken wings”, where they took three chicken wings, deboned them, and then performed various bits of culinary magic on them. I can’t be specific because I was seated too far from the dish to hear the description – but when they plated it, it looked divine.)

The folks seated next to me had dined at Café Atlántico before, but not at minibar. The gentleman in this couple was … well, my nickname for him became “Question Man”. The very first dish that appeared was immediately met with “so what’s the container this is being served in? Is this a shot drink? How do you make the foam? How was this created? What’s in it again? Wait, how do I eat it?” and the questions continued to come each time. The chefs never lost their cool with all the questions – including serving “Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini” and being met with “so what’s in this?” :think: Eventually Question Man just decided to enjoy the experience without trying to understand every single aspect of each plate.

About midway through the evening, PF asked a few questions of his own. After the Bagels and Lox dish was served, PF commented that the plating was very similar to what Chef Keller had done at The French Laundry. One of the chefs, Brad, must have heard that because from then on, the more detailed descriptions were aimed at us (well, mainly at PF – I just chewed and enjoyed and made “mmmmmm” noises. :wink: ) We discussed AB2s visit, how they have changed their plating of a few dishes while keeping the flavors the same, etc. (Oh, and it’s possible that a swap of cheesecake-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for another reservation was discussed. :whistle: )

At the end of the meal, after we were served with “scrambled eggs” (aka “the bill), Brad turned to me and said “you two hang back” while the others were standing to leave. I noticed that PF was getting ready to stand and I grabbed his arm and said “sit tight”. (I figured that perhaps Brad just wanted to talk real food with PF, after having been so patient with Question Man.) We were given a tasting of “Peas and Ham”, where the ham was a clear, loaf shaped aspic with peas suspended in it. Brad reminded us that the dish was meant to be served warm but asked what we’d thought of the dish. He commented that creating new ways of serving familiar flavors kept the staff challenged and motivated. He also remarked that he knew this dish was not ready for the menu yet, and we agreed that the ham flavor was still too subtle. It already shows signs of being pretty stellar, ‘tho.

As for taking photos at a meal being bothersome for the patrons around you, I have no hesitation in saying that neither of the parties alongside of us minded a bit. In fact, the couple next to PF gave them their email address before leaving, asking to please send them his pictures. For a meal like this, reading “Beet Tumbleweed” or “Guacamole” or “Tzatziki” just wouldn’t do the dishes we were presented justice.

It was a heck of a night ... and yeah, the Torrijas con helado de vanilla? Still can't believe we didn't order another one of those.


My God, but I am so happily envious of you two. :) What a wonderful experience!!
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby okbye » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:46 am

Jules wrote:The chefs never lost their cool with all the questions – including serving “Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini” and being met with “so what’s in this?” :think:


"Is there a lot of zucchini in the zucchini, zucchini, spam and zucchini?"
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby JJ » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:53 am

So have you ever thought about asking where's the ketchup w/ a straight face to see their reaction?
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Re: minibar by josé andrés (Very Pic Heavy)

Postby carla » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:57 am

Jules wrote:PF declined to mention a dish that we were invited to experience at the end of our minibar evening.

At the end of the meal, after we were served with “scrambled eggs” (aka “the bill), Brad turned to me and said “you two hang back” while the others were standing to leave. I noticed that PF was getting ready to stand and I grabbed his arm and said “sit tight”. (I figured that perhaps Brad just wanted to talk real food with PF, after having been so patient with Question Man.) We were given a tasting of “Peas and Ham”, where the ham was a clear, loaf shaped aspic with peas suspended in it. Brad reminded us that the dish was meant to be served warm but asked what we’d thought of the dish. He commented that creating new ways of serving familiar flavors kept the staff challenged and motivated. He also remarked that he knew this dish was not ready for the menu yet, and we agreed that the ham flavor was still too subtle. It already shows signs of being pretty stellar, ‘tho.

Wonderful!! :D :clap:

LOL at Barb's zuch comment.
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