The Traveling Richters have not traveled much in 2009, at least not so far. We spent a couple of weeks in Arizona and New Mexico in February, exploring red rocks, small bits of desert, art galleries, giant craters, Route 66, and ski slopes, but that’s been about it as my business travels have kept me away from home for pretty much the rest of the time.
That hasn’t stopped me from doing some exploration of my own in the various cities I’ve been visiting on business, and thus last night, I had the chance to dine at Minibar in Washington D.C., known for its difficult to obtain reservations (only six seats, two seatings nightly, five nights a week) and its outstanding fare. Minibar is set up like a sushi bar, and the featured cuisine is molecular gastronomy, which combines science with food ingredients to produce (sometimes) amazing culinary experiences. I made my reservation a month ago (the soonest you can book one of the prized spots at the bar at Minibar).
Our 26 course taste journey, spread out over about two hours, featured the following menu:
Olive Oil “Bon-Bon”
“Bagels and Lox”
Steamed Brioche Bun with Caviar
Dragon’s Breath Popcorn
Boneless Chicken Wing
Blue Cheese and Almond
Cotton Candy Eel
Flavors & Textures
Zucchini in Textures
Green Almonds and “Raisins”
“Sundried” Tomato Salad
Smoked Oysters with Apples and Juniper
Salmon-Pineapple “Ravioli” with Crispy Quinoa
New England Clam Chowder
Parmesan “Egg” with Migas
Breaded Cigala with Sea Salad
Kumquats & Pumpkin Oil
Frozen Yogurt and Honey
Chocolate Covered Corn Nuts – Mango Box – Saffron Gumdrop with Edible Wrapper
The courses were all quite excellent, but I must say my favorites were the Tzatziki Salad (a spoom of Greek yogurt with juvenile cucumber flowers and garlic oil), the Philly Cheese Steak (a hollow bread filled with cheese foam and topped with Wagyu beef slices, and the Thai Dessert, which was like a Pad Thai in dessert form. The latter was the only one I failed to get a photo of during the evening.
The only mild negative was that the courses just kept coming a bit too quickly. But with the first seating at 6pm and the second at 8:30pm, I guess it’s kind of necessary.
The wait staff and chefs were attentive, willing to answer any question, no matter how odd or ignorant, and also very accommodating in explaining all aspects of their culinary arts. And my dinner companions were a delight to share the meal with as well – all of them strangers at the start of the meal and friendly acquaintances by the end.
I would highly recommend Minibar to anyone wanting to try molecular gastronomy and able to plan well in advance of a trip to Washington D.C. Photos from my culinary journey at Minibar can be found here.
Update: Just got a note about a post from Kristin Drohan, one of my dining companions that night at Minibar. Also, here’s a great play-by-play description of the same menu I enjoyed, written by friends of my friend Nell. My photos are better though 😉