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Found 4 results

  1. What happens when one of your favorite chefs, whose restaurants you’ve greatly enjoyed in the past, becomes more and more successful? And by successful I mean keeps opening restaurants all over the damn place. Well, I guess on the one hand you can be happy for that chef’s success and be excited to try all of those restaurants. I mean, there is a chef or two here in New York who have gone on to fame and fortune and I’m pretty happy to be eating in most, if not all, of their establishments. But what about the other side of the coin, where as your favorite chef opens a new restaurant, one or more of the previously opened ones turns out to be not so good? Okay, the chef I’m referring to is José Andrés. You probably know José; a great cook whose food I've always admired, wildly popular, got a bunch of TV shows, Spain’s greatest ambassador, etc., etc. He has that great accent. He’s a partner (in Think Food Group) and ostensibly the Big Kahuna Chef of close to a dozen restaurants. He made his bones working in some of Spain’s top kitchens, including that of Ferran Adrià, of…well, you know…that Ferran Adrià. And then when he embarked to the United States, rather than heading for New York City and all of it’s potential fame and glory, he headed for Washington, D. C. - and whatever it is you go there for. In José's case, it was to open restaurants. Jaleo, Café Atlantico, Zaytinya - all good, if not great restaurants, as a matter of fact. Highly touted restaurants, which gave him and his partners the ability to open more restaurants. These were and are fun, happening places with good food, good times and fairly gentle prices. Then there were more – Oyamel, another location or two of Jaleo, minibar by José Andrés, a restaurant or two in Vegas, one or two in Los Angeles – you get the picture. Just last weekend, I was excited to try a restaurant of Jose’s that has been open for a while now – Oyamel, in D. C. Even though I’d be warned off by a friend who knows his food, I was curious ( said friend said it sucked, btw). But it’s José's place, after all, so off we went. Now, to say I was put off a little by being seated in the bar area, even though I had made a reservation weeks earlier, would be putting it mildly. My mood was made (slightly) worse when my protestations fell of deaf ears, as we were told by one of the 3 or 4 hostetts that it would be another hour’s wait to sit somewhere else (like perhaps in the restaurant), and that they didn’t consider our table to be in the bar area, even though, ummm, it was in the fucking bar area. I don’t know about you, but sitting in the bar area of a popular restaurant on a Friday night isn’t my idea of fun. Because sooner or later someone’s ass is gonna be about an inch from my guacamole, and at $13.50 an order, I prefer my guac sans ass, especially when it’s the ass of some tourist douche from Iowa. Be that as it may, I guess all would have been forgiven if the food knocked me out; that way I could prove my friend wrong, which is always fun. It didn’t…as a matter of fact, other than a really nice fresh hearts of palm and avocado salad, nothing was that exciting - not even the ass guac (okay, the chips and salsa were fine). Then it struck me; my last meal at Zaytinya, a place I’ve blogged and raved about in the past, wasn’t that great either. I mean, sure, it was ok and all, but it lacked a certain zing that I recalled from previous meals. These were both meals, that once were finished and we walked outside, I said to Significant Eater: “We don’t have to go there again!” So perhaps there are two lessons to be learned. One is for José and that is - don’t forget about all your other restaurants when you’re running around the world opening new ones and flogging yourself on TV. And the second is for me and that is, listen to (some of) your knowledgeable food friends – they (sometimes) know of what they speak.
  2. The size scope and enormity of this effort has been extraordinary https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/dining/jose-andres-puerto-rico.html?referer=https://t.co/ZbaguwGdY6?amp=1
  3. Knowingly or not, anyone can get caught up in politics, activism etc. Jose Andres' planned restaurant in the planned Trump hotel in DC is now a target for protests against Trump's recent statements. Here is one article on the topic and includes a tweet by Andres I bet this story isn't going away for a while.
  4. [posted on eGullet 2003-2004] The minibar at Café Atlantico is an amazing experience that anyone serious about food must try once (you folks may wish to get your reservations in now because this is going to be the biggest thing in DC since the Monument). No matter what I say here, you owe it to yourself to go - this is something to experience, to learn from and to make up your own mind about. Yes, some 34 tastes or thereabouts, beginning with a Binaca spray-can full of mojito, and ending with a spoonful of Listerine sorbet 90 minutes later. In between, you'll find rapid-fire courses full of all the audacity and verve that you could possibly imagine. Some work, some don't, and all are thought-provoking and whimsical. There is no sense in breaking down each of these because the depth of each individual item is not the important thing here: the courses come at you too fast for reflection, for scrutiny, for analysis. This meal is a roller coaster, a surfboard riding the waves of flavor, texture and temperature without the time allowed to peak under the water to see what's happening. It's tres macro in that the big picture is what you should walk away with, not minute details of each 90-second course. This was a challenge for me because I like to think about what I'm eating, but this is the cuisine of first impact and slapdash analysis. Only at the end should you think back and reflect. The actual dishes - and I suspect I'll take heat for saying this - are not important. Nor is the concept behind each individual dish important. The important thing here is the concept behind the meal as a whole. Not having been to El Bulli, I have never experienced anything like this before. Once you've done it, you won't want to do it again, at least not for a long while, but everyone needs to do it once. There are 270 million people in the United States, and it will take a good long time to fit each of them into this little six-seat minibar, so Café Atlantico should prepare themselves to be deluged. You have to feel a twinge of pity for any first-time visitor to London that doesn't see the Tower of London, if not for the crown jewels and the contrived whimsy of the Beefeater tour guides, then for the sheer amazement of being there, and it's the same way with anyone serious about food: they simply have to have a meal at the minibar at Café Atlantico. But just as a London tourist wouldn't feel any need to return there (only a masochist would return a second time), I doubt I'll be back to the minibar anytime soon. It doesn't really matter what they're going to do with the harvest this autumn - I already know what the meal is going to be, and at this point, it's just a matter of filling in the proper details with the proper ingredients. And I don't feel the need to find out what strange ingredient will be combined with my squash this fall. Regarding the wines with this meal, the restaurant desperately needs to turn towards Germany for Kabinett-level Riesling (hey guys, Terry Theise does live in this area, y'know!), and also for some lightweight red Bourgognes. Having four bottles open at once would highlight the little tasting game, say a Sauvignon Blanc, an Austrian Gruner Veltliner (preferably with some age), a Pinot Noir from Burgundy and a Riesling from Germany. Absent that, there are so many tastes, combinations, temperatures being hurled at you that you're probably best off drinking still bottled water at room temperature and just riding with the food. So, did I like it? Well, that depends what 'it' is. I loved the dining experience in its entirety, I loved the novelty, I loved the back-and-forth between server-and-diner, I loved the sheer innovation and I loved that I was early in catching this destination meal that is going to be wildly popular, and there's no way it won't be (repeat: reserve now!). Almost every dish brought forth a 'wow, this is really interesting' from me, but not-so-many dishes warmed my soul, or made me want to have them again. I was on my toes the entire meal, but it was a rare moment in the meal when I'd say to myself, 'Man I've just GOT to have another one of those!' Again, I stress that it's the meal itself - not the components - that is the important and radical thing (unless you consider foie gras wrapped in cotton candy important and radical. Well, okay, it may be radical, but it's certainly not important). But did I like it? Put it this way: now that I know what it entails, I would look back two days ago and say to myself, 'yes, this is the one place you need to experience, more than any other place in the Washington area.' Now that I've had it, it would not be in my top 50 for visiting a second time (though I'm Jonesin' to try the weekend brunch). So, you should consider this posting to be a plug for the minibar at Café Atlantico. I urge you, gentle reader, to go, go with an open mind, and by all means make your own decisions which could easily be quite different than mine are. We're in uncharted territory with this place, and it cannot be "ranked" with the other restaurants in the city. Oh and Steve Klc: your mango dessert was indeed brilliant - I felt like fireworks were going off inside my head. Given my advanced sagesse as a result of this experience, you may now call me PopRocks. Cheers, Rocks. P.S. I can honestly say this was the first 34-course meal I've ever had that was followed by two Wendy's spicy chicken filet sandwiches on the way home. (Seriously.)
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