Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Dining Around – Minibar in D.C.

June 3rd, 2009 at 6:24 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

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.

The bar at Minibar has some nice ingredients on iceThat 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:

Pisco Sour
Olive Oil “Bon-Bon”
Beet “Tumbleweed”
“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
“Tzatziki” Salad
New England Clam Chowder
Parmesan “Egg” with Migas
Breaded Cigala with Sea Salad
“Philly Cheesesteak”

Kumquats & Pumpkin Oil

Frozen Yogurt and Honey
Thai Dessert

Sweet Endings
Chocolate Covered Corn Nuts – Mango Box – Saffron Gumdrop with Edible Wrapper

Minibar - Course 18 - Tzatziki SaladThe 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 😉


Barcelona Dining – Barkeno Cocina Mediterranea

April 21st, 2008 at 6:29 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

After departing Brasserie Flo after being completely ignored (see review in post preceding this one), we headed to Barkeno Cocina Mediterranea, a restaurant we had previously walked past on the way to our hotel, and one the front desk at our hotel had recommended as well.

What a difference Barkeno was from Flo. The service was very good – the only mild negative was that I had to pour my own wine and water most of the time, but that truly is mild considering how great our waiter was in all other respects.

We had an excellent meal, starting with appetizers including mussels in cream and wine sauce, tuna tartar with avocado, and whole fried small fish and baby squid. We were also treated to home-made chips (potato, sweet potato, and eggplant) and nicely marinated olives. We also had an order of Catalan Bread – lightly toasted bread onto which olive oil and tomato has been rubbed. Catalan Bread is a staple in most of the restaurants we’ve been in here, and quite fresh and tasty when done right.

For our main courses we enjoyed monkfish medallions, grilled pork with mashed sweet potatoes, and duck margrate, all of which were also excellent.

We accompanied our meal with a bottle of 2006 Ermita D’Espiells from Juve y Camps, made from a blend of Macabeu, Xarello and Parellada grapes – a wonderful recommendation from our waiter, and reasonably priced as well.

Our “postres” (the local word for desserts) featured a trio of chocolate textures, Parmesan ice cream (sounds odd, but was quite tasty), a cheese cake, and strawberries in muscat. Again, all very nicely plated and very tasty. We were also given small (thimble-sized) cups of white chocolate filled with dark chocolate mousse and hazelnuts (filberts) as a small treat to end our meal. I also discovered that Grand Marnier comes in a yellow label (versus the usual red), indicating a lemon flavor instead of Grand Marnier’s usual orange base, although my personal preference still runs to Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire or Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire when opportunity arises.

Our meal for the four of us was about 175 Euros, plus I gave our waiter a 20 Euro tip for the service he provided. Expensive, but definitely the best meal we’ve had in Barcelona so far.

I give Barkeno an 8.5 out 10.0 on The Richter Scale.