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.