Thursday, August 11, 2005

Taste test: Minibar

Barbecued shrimp with cactus, avocado creme fraiche, and tamarind reduction

Continuing the small plates theme, we stopped by Minibar after a screening at the Egpytian. The screening was of a Hong Kong film called Dumplings, seemingly the perfect thing to watch before a nice dinner. It's about a TV star who fears her youth is fading and turns to a woman who cooks up some very special dumplings in her kitchen which hold the secret of eternal youth. They involve ginger, chives, homemade wrappers and...I can't really reveal the secret ingredient. Let's just say our appetites were slightly compromised when we walked into Minibar. The place has a very of-the-moment design in aqua, brown and orange with big, silly Keane paintings -- very fun, but they may have to redecorate everytime the current style changes. It was pretty empty with just a few 40ish Valley couples discussing their kids' schools and older guys in Mervyn's Hawaiian shirts. I have nothing against the Valley, but this place looks really cool inside, and some of those guys were ruining the decor with their clothes.

The perky server brought small complimentary glasses of Spanish cava, a nice touch.
We ordered duck confit eggrolls, barbecued shrimp, beet salad and salmon and brie phyllo rolls. The eggrolls were tasty, but there were just four small bites. The shrimp, though, was nice and meaty and the avocado creme fraiche sounds too chi chi, but just tasted like nice rich guacamole. Everything was much better than I expected for more of a loungish space, although salmon and brie probably isn't the best combination. The mojitos were great, with most tables sampling the pomegranate varieties.
My main beef with this place was the horrible music, everything from Van Halen to "The Entertainer" to "Rock the Boat" -- it was like being trapped on my junior high schoolbus playing KHJ AM. I understand that later in the evening they play electronica -- were they trying to please the Hawaiian shirt guy with the seventies tunes, or what?
The verdict: A cute place to stop in for a mojito and some snacks if friends in the Valley want to get together with friends from Hollywood or beyond. Like at all small plates places, you'll spend a little more than you wanted, you'll leave slightly hungry and you certainly won't have a doggie bag.

17 comments:

Jessica said...

I also liked Minibar more than I expected to (here's my post from March) yet I haven't been back in a while. Interesting you weren't full; I found the portions to be quite ample.

But your experience begs the question: no hot chocolate stew!? I know it's summer and thus steaming hot beverages hardly appeal like they do on rainy nights, but it really is the best thing they got going over there.

tokyoastrogirl said...

I agree with you-Minibar has great drinks (PARTICULARLY the pomegranate mojito) but the food is just too tiny. Some of the combos we had were so-so, but the main problem was that we kept having to order more and more plates since there were four of us and we were hungry. Not really worth the price for a few bites of food, IMHO.

Daria de la Luna said...

Is it not dreadful when an otherwise okay place insists on playing music like that???

I have been a mojito purist until now, but I have been getting incresingly curious about the pomegranate ones. I even think they may be available here in Ohio. LOL!

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l82w0rk said...

i was wondering if this is the same place that was showed on the foodnetwork channel: the secret life of. i would like to go there they had a tuna on top of three pieces of fried cakes or something and i also saw a steak rolled up with cheese on a skeewer.

l82w0rk said...

i was wondering if this is the same place that was showed on the foodnetwork channel: the secret life of. i would like to go there they had a tuna on top of three pieces of fried cakes or something and i also saw a steak rolled up with cheese on a skeewer.

l82w0rk said...

i was wondering if this is the same place that was showed on the foodnetwork channel: the secret life of. i would like to go there they had a tuna on top of three pieces of fried cakes or something and i also saw a steak rolled up with cheese on a skeewer.

l82w0rk said...

i was wondering if this is the same place that was showed on the foodnetwork channel: the secret life of. i would like to go there they had a tuna on top of three pieces of fried cakes or something and i also saw a steak rolled up with cheese on a skeewer.

l82w0rk said...

i was wondering if this is the same place that was showed on the foodnetwork channel: the secret life of. i would like to go there they had a tuna on top of three pieces of fried cakes or something and i also saw a steak rolled up with cheese on a skeewer.

l82w0rk said...

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