Long reserved for fine dining superfans who are willing to pay a premium for hours-long modernist meals, Minibar by José Andrés reopened this week with a smaller number of seats that make it even more difficult to score a table. Upon its return from a 19-month pause on Thursday, October 14, Minibar was offering just one two-hour seating for a maximum of six people to ensure social distancing.
Tickets are sold out through November, and more will be released for December and January soon. The price for the ultra-luxe destination, one of only three restaurants in the area with two Michelin stars, holds steady at pre-pandemic levels: $295 per person before tax and gratuity, with an optional $195 wine pairing.
While Minibar was closed, adjoining cocktail bar Barmini had already returned with a “One Night in Tokyo” tasting menu last summer. Building on that idea, Minibar’s mostly new menu has adopted a Japanese theme. ThinkFoodGroup research and development chefs Charisse Grey and Koji Terano, a respective Hawaiian with Japanese heritage and an Osaka native and, helped develop new dishes that appear across 20-plus courses, along with Minibar chefs Sarah Ravitz and Melissa Lalli.
A Minibar representative provided Eater with two menu items: a freeze-dried soy chicharron with wasabi guacamole and an unagi salmorejo (Spanish tomato stew with skewered eel). Washingtonian reported there is a lightly seared wagyu beef with a sphere of beef consomme; a plate of shiso leaf tacos full of Iberico ham, green tomato gel, and tomatillo; a strawberry tuille that riffs on Japanese strawberry milk; and a tiny tempura doughnut with a green tea flavor.
One of my new favorite desserts @minibarbyjose …strawberry milk.. like @benandjerrys went to Japan! pic.twitter.com/IQNfc5d4pm— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) October 14, 2021
The tasting counter got its start at Andrés’s late Cafe Atlantico in 2003. It’s the last to reopen of ThinkFoodGroup’s local properties. The group also recently closed its Jaleo location in Northern Virginia and introduced its hit Spanish Diner in Bethesda.
Since Minibar was last open, 14th Street NW tasting bar Jont has emerged as a competitor with a $305 chef’s counter and its own two-star rating by Michelin. Pineapple and Pearls, the other D.C. restaurant with two Michelin stars, remained temporarily closed as of mid-October.