minibar by josé andrés

Molecular Gastronomy Bonanza!

“Molecular Gastronomy blends physics and chemistry to transform the tastes and textures of food. The result? New and innovative dining experiences.” (a quote from http://www.molecularrecipes.com/molecular-gastronomy/)

If you are a fan of molecular gastronomy there are a few names you must already know: Ferran Adriå, Grant Achatz, Rene Redzepi … and of course José Andrés. These are the leading chefs, the trend setters, in employing the art of Molecular Gastronomy in the culinary world.

When my honey asked me if I would to join him on a business trip to Washington D.C., the first thing that came to my mind was: that’s José Andrés’s home base.  My answer, of course, was yes!  ThinkFoodGroup is José Andrés’s innovative company based in Washington D.C. and it is behind all the exciting things happening at his many restaurants all over USA, including his 5 restaurants in D.C..

José Andrés’s Minibar and Barmini are perfect examples of the fantastic experiences that Molecular Gastronomy presents to us.  Barmini is a whimsical cocktail lab, while Minibar (right next door) is a two michelin starred restaurant offering a tasting menu that is designed to thrill your senses by employing cutting edge cooking techniques and the many tricks of Molecular Gastronomy- including methods like sous-vide, flash freezing, powdered food, dehydration, spherification, gelification, emulsification (foams etc)… you name it!

The well choreographed tasting menu, including 20+ dishes, at Minibar costs about $350(tax and tip included).  It is totally worth it if Molecular Gastronomy is your thing.   Be very sure before you book it, as the reservation has to be paid for in advance and it cannot be cancelled.

The menu is constantly evolving.  Looking at the giant blackboards in the dining space you can see how the team has been brainstorming its resources, knowledge and seasonal ingredients to create an exciting menu just for you.  None of the dishes are a permanent fixture on the menu.  Each gets introduced and then eventually phased out for something new and more seasonal within a month’s time. 

To me, it was one of the coolest dining experiences I have ever had!  Unlike most other fancy tasting menus I have experienced thus far, here the whole vibe was super fun and interactive.  It all started with comfortable seating, peppy music and friendly, smiling faces.  The chefs engaged in fun banter and conversations with us the entire time.  Some bites were literary placed in our mouths by the chefs! Yah!  Many dishes came with specific instructions on how to enjoy them.  I was never a good science student, but I certainly enjoyed being on the receiving end of this delicious and delightfully sensory experience.

I LOVED that most of the dishes were literally assembled right before our very eyes at our table – and we got the see the meticulous effort the chefs put into layering each dish with flavors and textures.  Everything was clearly well-thought out and watching the whole process made me realize just how much goes into each dish well before the guests even get seated at the table.

Another thing I really LOVED about this experience was that we were escorted next door to Barmini for our final dessert courses.  The vibe here was so fun!  There were vapors oozing from pitchers, delectable aromas surrounding the space and cool looking decanters filled with colorful liquids.  A wonderland!  Some small savory bites are offered in this space along with the many cocktails.  It was all too tempting and so next time, I will have to visit Barmini and immerse myself more completely in its blissful atmosphere.

I'd love to know what you think....