The Washington Post

Minibar by Jose Andres 2.0: Bigger, not better

“Fabes con almejas — beans with clams — at the recently relocated Minibar by Jose Andres is one of those dishes you marvel at when it arrives and discuss with your companions the next day.”

And that’s pretty much the end of the good news as far as Tom Sietsema’s review of the relocated Minibar is concerned. The former six-seat, 3 1/2 star mini-restaurant now has twice as many seats and 1 1/2 fewer stars after the Post’s food critic spent an evening (and $1,800 on dinner for four) at Jose Andres’s new digs.

Minibar: Innovation’s great, but it needs elevation

Sietsema, who is a regular contributor to this blog, noted in his review that he only dined at the new Minibar once — after several, glowing encounters at the orignal enclave — before his words went to print, instead of his customary three times. Andres responded on Twitter:

@tomsietsema I’m disappointed too You came quick and only once.And thats unfair under any circumstance.Proud of my team.But we respect you..

— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) December 5, 2012

But for a meal that starts at around $300 including tax and gratuity (and that’s before the extra $45 to $200 for beverage packages!), is it really unfair to judge an established enterprise by an internationally-recognized megachef such as Andres — albeit in a new location — on a single encounter? Sietsema said he thinks of Minibar as an old concept in fresh packaging, evinced in part by the reality that the name is the same.

It wasn’t a total pan, either. Two stars is still “good” by Sietsema’s rubric. But there’s likely no going back a second or third time for most diners, whether the meal is exceptional or merely good. And even if subsequent visits are superlative, “best two out of three” is a disappointing standard for “one of the nation’s most exciting dining experiences,” as Minibar regards itself.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.


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