minibar olives
minibar olives

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The “liquid olives” at the Minibar

Them’s the fighting words of Ben Leventhal.

Leventhal is the co-founder who has become a darling of the New York foodie blogosphere by opening the flood gates of information to (and I quote from the Eater site) “rumors, conjecture and opinions, as well as accurately reported factual information. The site may contain errors or inaccuracies. We do not guarantee, and no reliance should be placed upon, the correctness or reliability of Eater’s content…”

So maybe I should take Leventhal’s latest piece for New York magazine’s Grub Street blog with a large grain of Himalayan pink salt. Today, Leventhal published a piece about the five toughest reservations in America, a list that didn’t ring many alarm bells for me until Leventhal included a number of honorable mentions. Among them is José AndrésMinibar, of which Leventhal writes:

José Andrés’s tiny restaurant-within-a-restaurant has just six seats and two seatings a night. Seats open up 30 days in advance, at 10 a.m. If it were located in a more food-focused city, it would easily be the hardest reservation in the country.

First of all, Leventhal has apparently been too busy rolling out Eater.coms in other cities to notice that half of the country’s celebrity chefs have opened up shop in D.C. The list includes Eric RipertLaurent Tourondel, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck, Art Smith, Alain Ducasse, and now Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Holy shit, has anyone told these dudes that the District is not so food-focused?

Second, the D.C. area has its own celebrated toques, even without the influx of culinary heavy hitters looking to capitalize on the District’s (fairly) stable economy and our ever-expanding dining scene. The list includes not only Andrés but also Michel Richard, Cathal Armstrong, Eric Ziebold, Frank Ruta, Ann Cashion, Vikram Sunderam, and, of course, the boy wonder, Johnny Monis.

But third and more to the point, I dare Leventhal to try to snag a seat at the Minibar without using his credentials, his insider sources, or whatever other means he has that may require a disclaimer somewhere on the site. I’d love to see Leventhal sit on the phone, day after day, at 10 a.m., hoping and praying and genuflecting before some craven imagine so that he can get one of those 12 seats a day. The process leaves people frustrated and angry.

Oh, and Leventhal, do you think this task has become any easier since Andrés earned four stars from the Los Angeles Times for his Minibar-like Bazaar?