WASHINGTON -- A prized possession for one of the biggest names in the D.C. restaurant scene just got a so-so review after years of being considered the best, experimental and innovative dining experience in the nation's capital.
In Sietsema's book, two stars is still certainly "good," but as the critic sums up: "Dinner at the second Minibar is like watching a bunch of trailers when you’re hungry for a movie."
What happened? For starters, bigger is not always better. The Minibar experience lost some of its previous lustre in the move to upgrade its capacity from its former six-seat setup.
The result? Sietsema writes: "The scrunched intimacy of the original experience has been replaced by two broad oak counters that look onto a pristine kitchen and seat up to six participants each. Hovering over our heads are gold-colored domes that originated as boat shells. The performance space is clean and modern, if suggestive of an operating theater when you factor in the chefs in their whites bending over dishes manipulated by tweezers, tongs, liquid nitrogen and cloches galore."
The critic also noted "inattentiveness" with some dishes. Also, it was a bad sign that the first dish Sietsema "flipped" for -- beans with clams -- came as the 16th course.
Sietsema disclosed that his review was unusual because he only ate at the new version of Andres' "futuristic food lab" just once:
In this case, I made a rare exception and dined just once, partly because Minibar by Jose Andres is the world-famous chef’s second incarnation of his avant-garde concept, the first having opened in 2003 with just six seats at a small counter on the second floor of his late Cafe Atlantico. His team had the summer to rehearse its new show, prices for which have shot up $75, to $225 for the food alone.
Sietsema's bill for the evening for four people after tip? Nearly $1,800.
Andrés tweeted following Sietsema's review, which went online on Wednesday:
Others thought the one-visit review was unfair, too.
Andrés Think Food Group empire, rooted in the nation's capital, has expanded considerably since the first Minibar opened nearly a decade ago. With restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, expansion plans elsewhere including a soon-to-open restaurant in Puerto Rico, a PBS show and a teaching gig at George Washington University, Andrés is no doubt a busy man.
Andrés should take one thing to heart: At least this Sietsema review wasn't headlined "At Least The Water Is Cold."
Andrés tweeted on Thursday: