Mini bar at Café Atlantico

The description from Tyler Cowen’s Washington, DC dining guide remains correct — mini bar “takes many chances and doesn’t always hit.”


But it doesn’t need to when they’re serving you 35 different things over the course of a couple hours. The “caviar” made of peas is fascinating, an amazing creation, the texture is just right — but tastes like, well, peas.



The Friday night before last when I ate there was the most fun I’ve had at a meal, purely over the food, in a long time. It’s my second favorite meal of the past twelve months behind Tetsuya in Sydney — which puts it ahead — in terms of sheer enjoyment — of the Inn at Little Washington, CityZen, Citronelle, 2941, Indebleu, etc.


Minibar is a restaurant within a restaurant. It’s just six stools at a bar upstairs.

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There are two seatings a night, and you must be on time. You provide your credit card with the reservation and will be charged full price if you do not show. If you’re late you’ll join in the meal already in progress.

They suggest arriving 15 minutes early. Then you wait for the other diners to arrive, and you’re all escorted upstairs.

Two chefs prepare your food in front of you, and you have a dedicated waiter. The waiter handles your drinks and removes plates, and along with the chefs present your food (three people will usually take a dish in each hand in order to lay down all plates at the same time, this doesn’t always happen and the two chefs will manage it on their own). After each dish is presented one of the two chefs will tell you what you are about to eat, and when appropriate how to eat it — with your hands, with your metal spoon (with fork on the other end), in a single bite, or in two bites.


I’m told that the restaurant within a restaurant is so separate that Café Atlantico diners will be denied a copy of the Mini Bar menu if they request it. That’s strange, of course, since a sample of a (not entirely current) menu is on the website. But if you want to experience Mini Bar you must make the reservation… Or just continue reading this post after the jump, where I reproduce the evening menu along with pictures of most courses.


My favorites on the night were the Cotton Candy Foie Gras (foie gras on a stick with cotton candy wrapped around it, alas my picture came out too fuzzy to reproduce here), Lobster Americaine (where you inject roe into your mouth while eating a bite of lobster), and the “Philly Cheesesteak” (which was a piece of pita bread with cheddar pastry cream, truffle oil, and wagyu beef).

MENU


SNACKS

Olive Oil Bon Bon

Pork Rinds with Maple Syrup

Lotus Chips with Star Anise

Passion Fruit Whiskey Sour

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Beet Tumbleweed

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Mojito Spritz


FLAVORS & TEXTURES

Salmon Roe Cone

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Pineapple Salmon Ravioli with Avocado & Quinoa

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Jicama Wraps

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Deconstructed Glass of Wine

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Liquid Cantelope Ravioli

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Melon Tenderloin with Almond Espuma & Micro Salad

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Organized Caesar Salad

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Cotton Candy Foie Gras


Conch Fritters

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Sweet Pea Caviar

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Zucchini in Textures

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Hot & Cold Foie Gras Soup

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“Guacamole”

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Feta Linguine

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Frozen Beat Soup with Scallop

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Egg 147◦ with Caviar

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Lobster Americaine

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Sea Urchin with Pomegranate Air

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New New England Clam Chowder

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Breaded Cigalas

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“Philly Cheesesteak”

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Watermelon Air

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SWEET END

Apples with Red Wine “Fredy Girardet”

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Pina Colada

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Saffron Gumdrop

Fruit Cocktail

Maracuya Marshmallows

Chocolate Covered Corn Nuts

Halls Lollipop

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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