Saturday, May 5, 2007

~~Jose Andrés MiniBar in Washington D.C.~~

all photographs by Wilbur M. Reeling & Nikon 5400
..."stop putting FOAM on my food!"...
Jose Andrés MiniBar is not a
"BIG BOY ON THE CULINARY PLAYGROUND"
... more like a BULLi !
CLICK PHOTOS FOR FULL VIEW
below: Ernie Nagy, Chef & owner of the waterfront
"Tidewater Restaurant" in Havre de Grace, Maryland
with my daughter Honor at the MiniBar
"molecular gastronomy"
FANTASTIC FOOD & CERTAINLY A "bib gourmand"
. . . BUT A MICHELIN 3 STAR PRICE?
-- for 3 of us $697 on Visa, plus $9o for cash gratuities --
MiniBar tasting menu
My favorite TV food line is from Desperate Housewives when BRIE'S SON asked her when she was going to stop serving CUISINE and start serving some FOOD? -lol-
... with MiniBar TV STAR Executive Chef Katsuya Fukushima.
Chef Katsuya's parents have retired to Havre de Grace, MarylandIt is certainly a MAJOR stretch to pay $697 & a separate cash $90 tip for 3 people to eat a "molecular gastronomy" dinner in a place that resembled a twenty year old tacky threadbare Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurant. We had a never ending stream of Hors d' oeuvres ~ Mezze ~ Tapas or what seemed like a never ending ‘Amuse-Bouché ’... but we did it at what was thought to be the first class José Andrés MiniBar. WHAT A SHOCK!

below: chefs of Café Atlántico in the open kitchen

below: "molecular gastronomy" Chef Michael Turner & CURRIED CHICKEN WINGS

below: OLIVE OIL BON BON

above: "molecular gastronomy" Chef Michael Turner was playing the MiniBar part all evening of "hated Chef Marcel" from Bravo TV's big hit show Top Chef, but ... "BEST F@*&# ing Manly Man, live-beating Cobra heart eating, CHEF IN THE WORLD & Real TV Star & Real Chef Anthony "Tony" Bourdain" said of Marcel in Bravo’s Top Chef TV --"Marcel Vigneron’s self-love is as garish and repellent as his winged hairdo"

below: "molecular gastronomy" Chef Ryan Moore was our winner "Ilan" and FAV of the MiniBar 3-ring event, ... says NY Times of Bravo’s Top Chef TV SHOW WINNER, "Ilan", Only in contrast to Marcel does Ilan Hall seem humble and winsome. Don’t be duped. In this season’s first episode he flatly declared, ..."I want to be famous"...below: BAGELS & LOX ..."stop putting FOAM on my food!"...

Chef Katsuya Fukushima & Chef Ernie's tee-shirt poke fun at .."FOAM"..
below: (front) TUMBLEWEED OF BEET & APPLE CRISPS
APPLE CRISPS
below: MARACUYA - MARSHMALLOW - PIÑA COLADA

In 2003 MiniBar was given a 3 star review from the Washington Post’s Dining Guide but downgraded in 2006 and is now down to 2 and a fraction stars out of a possible 4.
In a 3 STAR MICHELIN you need literal perfection every time, not some times. A restaurant is rated for food, wine, service and ambience. But, expect to pay at least $200 per person, usually a lot more for a complete 3 STAR MICHELIN dinner.

below: MATCHBALL

below: THAI DESSERT
below: "SUN DRIED" TOMATO SALAD
below: ZUCCHINI IN TEXTURES
below: DECONSTRUCTED GLASS OF WHITE WINE (partially eaten)
DECONSTRUCTED GLASS OF WHITE WINE (11 flavors on gilee)
below: SALMON-PINEAPPLE "RAVIOLI" WITH CRISPY QUINOA
below: COTTON CANDY FOIE GRAS
below: "CORNBREAD"
below: SMOKED OYSTER AND APPLES
below: CORN ON THE COB
below: EGG 63* WITH CAVIAR
below: PISTACHIO-BEETS AND MIXED BERRIES
below: "PHILLY CHEESESTEAK"
below: NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
below: CAESAR SALAD
below: JAPANESE BABY PEACHES WITH YOGURT
below: BREADED CIGALA WITH SEA ASPARAGUS






PERHAPS MiniBar is trying to attain a level below 1 STAR MICHELIN ("bib gourmand") but I still think it’s a major stretch to rate it as a MICHELIN bib gourmand. To get that you need 40 percent of the overall score to food, 30 percent to wine and 15 & 15 percent each to service and ambiance.

~40% FOOD: -- no way José -- Both MiniBar owner and Chef José Andrés and Executive Chef Katsuya Fukushima, were trained at the 3 STAR MICHELIN Restaurant "elBulli" in Roses Spain under it’s owner & 3 star Chef Ferran Adriá. The thesis of elBulli Cuisine #2 is ..."The use of top quality products and technical knowledge to prepare them properly"... BUT WE WERE SERVED truffles from Oregon not Perigord or even Piedmond d' Alba, Osetra Caviar from Uruguay (I think Costco sells it), WAGYU beef, well done Sirloin.
~30% WINE: -- no way José -- 2 of the whites were served warm and I thought a red that I had to drink was bad. I would have trashed it ... but no one ever asked!
~15% SERVICE: -- no way José -- our wait-person, Pablo, left empty wine and water glasses and never even one time asked if everything was okay. He must have slipped home for a while when I wanted a cold replacement for my warm white wine or the bad red. A bigger bother to me was that he did not replace the soiled and used utensils even after being asked over&over after the 4th & 5th course.
~15% AMBIANCE: -- no way José -- the place looked worn, dismal and tired over-all, sort of threadbare like a 20 year old Chi-Chi’s that has never been re-decorated. The wrapped copper bar (was a leftover 6 seat Sushi Bar) looked as though it had not been cleaned or polished for weeks & weeks. It was covered with lots of dark stains. Lots of wine glass and watermark stains, big and little stains and it was scratched and dented. When I asked why it was not cleaned and polished I was told Chef Andrés liked the "RUSTIC LOOK". I thought it just looked dirty. Also, a lot of the service items and in particular the wine glasses and utensils looked very tired and very cheap. I was told they were purchased at Wallymart – no shit, no lie, Wal-Mart (and I think that’s where the pretend Riedel wine glasses came from by the looks of ‘em).

Compared to what? After thinking about my credentials to write these ‘NOT SO GOOD’ things, I have to say that I have eaten in more than twenty different 3 STAR MICHELIN Restaurants and many like Taillevent, Le Bernarin (while Gilbert Le Coze was Chef), Jöel Robuchon, La Tour d’Argent and Plaza Athenee in Paris, dozens of times. There’s also Monte Carlo’s 3 star Louis XV, and the Negresso in Nice during the film festival in France plus many others. I just cannot imagine the 3 STAR MICHELIN Chef Thomas Keller allowing this in one of his restaurants.

This entire meal had no UMAMI, (deliciousness, triggering a sensation of craving) as if it was missing the thread to hold it all together. When I left, far from quenched or satiated, I cannot think of a single "molecular gastronomy" food that I’m yearning to return to eat again, even had the surroundings been like a 3 star Louis XV .

All this "fuzz, foams, bubbles, smoke & mirrors" will end for us when "Sam & Sue’s Sip and Bite Restaurant" find a way to serve you foam on your scrambled eggs and bacon.

Thinking about the UMAMI factor while writing this -- I actually drove to South Philly and had the best one. A Pat's "KING OF STEAK" wit Cheez Whiz, load 'a Rib Eye, lil fried onion on a FRESHLY BAKED ITALIAN LOAF for just $7.00 (plus about $30 in gas)

The funny thing is for all you non-gourmet types is the BEST PHILLY SUB is not Geno's or Pat's wit Whiz ... it's a TONY LUKE'S ROAST PORK wit BROCCOLI ROBE.

--LOL --

PS --Tuesday May 8th, 9:30PM
....mmmmmm..... Boy! I have had more phone calls, letters and eMAILS saying they were so sorry that things were such a let down at MiniBar that I feel a need to respond.

It wasn't a let down at all -- it was really fun and great learning something new from Chef Ryan Moore and speaking with Chef Katsuya Fukushima and poking fun at ..."foam"... and "molecular gastronomy" in general. We even asked Chef Katsuya Fukushima to be our guest for dinner at my home or Chef Ernie’s restaurant when he next visits his parents in Havre de Grace.

We had a great time (fantastic even) and the food & preparation was 99 on a scale of 100. We are all happy to have gone. I picked up the tab and didn't blink a thimble of "molecular tear juice." –lol-- It was my pleasure. It just was not 1st class.

4 comments:

Rich said...

Awesome pictures, thanks!

~ Wilbur M. Reeling ~ said...

thanks Rich, it must be the Nikon.

ChuckEats said...

$697?!?! You're playing in the big leagues now!

I think you're right about the "missing thread holding it all together" comment. Despite most dishes at El Bulli being fine on their own; upon reflection, the meal itself seemed like a mismatch of various odds'n'ends:
http://chuckeats.com/blog3/2006/06/22/el-bulli-roses-spain-the-mad-scientist/

That might be Alinea's strong point - although the chef likes to experiment, he treats dinner as a meal instead of a collection of experiments.

~ Wilbur M. Reeling ~ said...

DON'T FORGET THE $90 EXTRA TIP IN CASH FOR THE "BOYS" THAT MADE IT ALL FOR US PLUS PARKING.

YOU WILL GET A CHARGE OUT OF THE NEXT ONE I POST ON HONG KONG SUSHI ... "MARYLAND STYLE" ...

WILBUR