It was with no small amount of glee that I read Tom Sietsema’s pan of the “new” minibar. My first experience two years ago at Jose Andres’ exclusive table for modernist cuisine was definitely three-plus star. But my second visit, earlier this year, was a big disappointment (turns out it was also a bargain). Judging from Sietsema’s review, many of the menu items have remained the same–every dish he mentioned, in fact, I’ve had–so what exactly makes Andres’ minibar new?
Well, it looks different for starters. Diners change rooms for opening drinks and closing desserts. And the picture in the Post looks like a room out of the Jetsons with the performance kitchen encircled by white lounge-y chairs. The other difference? This now solidly (barely?) two-star experience, will cost you a bit more. Aside from stomaching a jacked up per person rate (from $150 to $225), diners must choose from one of four drink pairings ranging from $45 (non-alcoholic) to $200 (what Jose would drink). For four, Sietsema paid $1800.
Perhaps the cobwebs are just starting to collect on a concept past its prime (and you could say that Andres is doubling down on it, but really he’s just asking his diners for that kindness). Maybe other chefs are doing it better. Maybe Andres is spread too thin. After such a scathing review, I have to wonder if the reservations will be so hard won. It’s already a bit less exclusive. The new minibar is double the size (four seatings of six per night) and double the price for a lot of soft, sweet, barely there foam. Sietsema concludes: “Dinner at the second Minibar is like watching a bunch of trailers when you’re hungry for a movie.”
Oh, one final New thing at minibar: According to Sietsema there were numerous service issues, something that I’d never experienced. Needless to say, Jose Andres is not pleased. One day the spell Jaleo seems to have over Sietsema will be broken. That is the only review I’ll enjoy more than this one.
Conclusion: if you’re going to make silly plates from casts of your hands that make it look like you’re God offering food to the hungry, you’d better get it right. Or give it for free.