written by Dr. John Sconzo
Jose Andres is a living legend. Without question the foremost practitioner of Ferran & Albert Adria’s elBulli Vanguardist style outside of Spain, he is a great chef and restaurateur, running a wide variety of excellent restaurants throughout the United States. He was legendary based on his restaurants alone. Minibar, his flagship restaurant has been going strong for 16 years, originally as a restaurant within a restaurant within the former Cafe Atlantico, and more recently in its own incredible space with an associated bar, called, what else, Bar Mini. His most recent opening, with a Vanguardist style similar to minibar, is Somni, in Beverly Hills, California. Simply sensational, Somni proved to be my No. 1 restaurant meal of 2018 thanks to an incredible combination of style, hospitality, creativity and sheer deliciousness. That said, minibar was, and still is, his original, creative flagship, recently named by Washingtonian Magazine as the Best Restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Minibar will be the culmination of one of our focused city weekends, during the weekend of May 3-5. The weekend trip is designed in a similar fashion to ones that we produced around Eleven Madison Park in New York City, and Alinea in Chicago. Both of those weekends took a single restaurant group and explored their tight family of restaurants and bars in ways otherwise impossible to experience. In NYC, in addition to Eleven Madison Park, (shortly after it was named the 2017 No. 1 restaurant in the World according to The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants List, and just prior to its closure for renovation), we featured dinner at The NoMad, lunch at Made Nice and a sensational, in depth cocktail workshop at The NoMad Bar where Make It Nice Head Bartender, Leo Robitschek took us through the glories of The Manhattan and its multitude of variations.
In Chicago, we enjoyed a spectacular meal at Next, cocktails at The Office, a superb lunch at Roister and an extraordinary passage through the cocktail creations of The Aviary, before finishing in high style at the ever extraordinary Alinea.
Our DC weekend is built in a similar fashion to those two weekends, however, one big difference, is that in those two cities, our focus remained within each restaurant group. In DC, much like our “Legacy of elBulli” week in Barcelona this past June, we will examine minibar and its own legacy, in the form of a couple of restaurants from chefs who were the day to day head chefs of minibar as well as, of course, minibar itself. We will start the weekend with a cocktail workshop at Bar Mini, where we will learn about and experience cocktails unlike anywhere else. It will be our introduction to the minibar style, which is creative, provocative and, above all, delicious and fun!
After the cocktail workshop, we will make our way to Georgetown to enjoy the exciting new restaurant, Reverie, from Chef Johnny Spero, recently seen on The Netflix Culinary Competition, The Final Table. Chef Spero, along with superstar bartender, JP Fetherston of The Columbia Room, came up to visit us in Saratoga Springs last spring to prepare an extraordinary Rascal + Thorn Guest Chef Dinner at Hamlet & Ghost.
On Saturday, May 4th, we will meet Chef Katsuya Fukushima, the original Chef de Cuisine of minibar from its opening in 2003 until it moved out of the old Café Atlantico space years later. Since minibar, Chef Fukushima has brought an array of great Japanese cooking from ramen to creative izakaya cooking to DC. We will enjoy a light, delicious lunch at his Bantam King restaurant followed by a cocktail at Daikaya. Together, Chef Katsuya’s restaurants provide some of the finest rustic Japanese cooking to be found in the United States.
Trying all of these restaurants and bars within the span of a weekend will afford a fun and delicious way to explore influences and styles from some of the finest culinary minds and hands in the country. We will be doing so from the perfectly situated Hotel Monaco, a luxurious Kimpton property that lies in the heart of downtown DC within easy strolls of most of our restaurant destinations.
Earlier, I described Chef Jose Andres, the man and chef who was most instrumental in making these restaurants and chefs what they have become, as a legend. While he is justifiably that based on his restaurants, his tv shows and other culinary talents alone, what has perhaps most solidified his status as a true legend, has been his indefatigable humanitarian work feeding hundreds of thousands of ill-fortuned hurricane, wild-fire and other natural disaster victims as well as those caught within the vortex of the recent government shutdown. With a man as busy as he is, we cannot promise that he will be present to meet us during the weekend, but we can certainly hope.
For more information on this great culinary weekend tour in DC, please go to Washington DC Weekend, The Legend of Minibar: May 3-5, 2019