Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: barmini - Penn Quarter, DC

You may remember reading about minibar here, but now meet minibar's little sister, barmini - referred to on their website as a "culinary cocktail lab".  I loved my experience at minibar, but this new concept is great - you still get to experience the whimsy of Jose Andres but in a far more accessible venue. (By the way,  he walked through the restaurant as we were there - I eat at his places several times a month and this is the first time I have seen him!!)  Granted, I still made my reservation a month or so in advance, but I tend to do that anyway for restaurants I really want to try.  The menu consists mainly of cocktails - there are over 100, organized by spirit.  We were told that nothing is overly sweet, or overpowering in any way - they strive for balance.  I tried only two this time around and would agree with their assessment thus far.  They use all antique glassware for the cocktails and I wanted all of it!  Very cool.  

Front and center is the French 75
My first drink was the French 75 - gin, lemon, sugar, brut champagne - simple and really delicious.  Light, fruity, sweet and tart.  Next up was something a little more unique, the Ñ - cucumber vodka, tomato water, lime and ginger syrup.  Honestly not my favorite as I'm not a huge fan of tomato juice, but it definitely was well-balanced - as soon as I started to get almost too much tomato flavor, the sweetness from the ginger syrup would kick in, finishing with a bit of tartness from the lime.  The cucumber kept it all fresh and clean.  I'm glad I tried it, but I'll opt for something new next time.

Rather than going through descriptions of the food (of which there is a limited selection), I'll let you just be enticed by the pictures.  And when you make it there yourself, don't forget to go to the side door and do the secret dance: hop on one foot, spin around 3 times and ring the doorbell 5 times...then voilà!  Someone appears to greet you.  Ok, so only the doorbell part is true, but it still feels kind of exclusive and cool.

"Bagels and Lox"

Grilled Cheese with Truffle

Thai Chicharrones w/ Yogurt Dip

Short Rib Banh Mi Burger - a-freaking-mazing!
Ice cream sandwich with Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream
And finally, even the delivery of the bill had Jose Andres' name all over it....

**Remember, you can click on any photo to see it full-sized.**