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.


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).



Olive Oil Bon Bon

Pork Rinds with Maple Syrup

Lotus Chips with Star Anise

Passion Fruit Whiskey Sour


Beet Tumbleweed


Mojito Spritz


Salmon Roe Cone


Pineapple Salmon Ravioli with Avocado & Quinoa


Jicama Wraps


Deconstructed Glass of Wine


Liquid Cantelope Ravioli



Melon Tenderloin with Almond Espuma & Micro Salad


Organized Caesar Salad


Cotton Candy Foie Gras

Conch Fritters


Sweet Pea Caviar


Zucchini in Textures


Hot & Cold Foie Gras Soup




Feta Linguine


Frozen Beat Soup with Scallop


Egg 147◦ with Caviar


Lobster Americaine


Sea Urchin with Pomegranate Air


New New England Clam Chowder


Breaded Cigalas


“Philly Cheesesteak”


Watermelon Air



Apples with Red Wine “Fredy Girardet”


Pina Colada


Saffron Gumdrop

Fruit Cocktail

Maracuya Marshmallows

Chocolate Covered Corn Nuts

Halls Lollipop


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, 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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