Today Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema gave the new incarnation of Minibar by José Andrés in Washington, DC a tepid two-star review, downgrading it from its original 3.5 stars. Andrés is not pleased. Sietsema tweeted the review, saying, "The return of minibar by @chefjoseandres is not what I had hoped." Andrés was quick to reply, "I'm disappointed too You came quick and only once.And thats unfair under any circumstance.Proud of my team.But we respect you.."
Sietsema's reassessment of Minibar came as the restaurant had moved to a new location, and installed an updated and more expensive menu. In the review, he describes seeing glimpses of Andrés' genius throughout the meal, but felt few of the dishes brought much pleasure.
He writes, "'Air' and froths and meringues — the techniques behind so much of this cooking here — make for a better AP chemistry class than a meal. It doesn't help that the start of the dinner is mostly sweet and that baby food textures dominate, as if no one on staff actually sat down and ate this extravaganza as a paying diner would." He wonders why, after months off, Andrés team wasn't able to come up with "more, and more polished, magic tricks." He also takes issue with pours "as restrained as what you get at Communion," servers prone to "missing their marks now and then," and an experience that, overall, leaves him cold.
According to Andrés, however, Sietsema came too early (the new Minibar opened on November 8th) and only once, which he sees as unfair. Sietsema explains in the review why he didn't make the typical three visits before publishing his assessment:
I typically make multiple visits to a new restaurant before assigning star ratings. In this case, I made a rare exception and dined just once, partly because Minibar by Jose Andres is the world-famous chef's second incarnation of his avant-garde concept, the first having opened in 2003 with just six seats at a small counter on the second floor of his late Cafe Atlantico. His team had the summer to rehearse its new show, prices for which have shot up $75, to $225 for the food alone.
Sietsema elaborated on that sentiment to Eater DC, saying, "If there's one detail I wish I would have added to the review, it would be this: I think of minibar by jose andres as an old concept in fresh packaging. In other words, I didn't see it as an entirely new establishment, evinced in part by the name it retains."
The Minibar camp has not provided further comment, but after the initial tweet, Andrés tweeted, "People of Tweeter! My team #minibar needs your love today! We got a hard review." Stay tuned.