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« Weekly Blog Round Up | Main | CommonWealth Gastro Pub - First Impressions »

Mon, Sep 01 2008 at 10:33 AM

Komi Restaurant

Posted by Jason, Sep 01, 2008

At this point, Amy and I pretty much have a standing reservation at Komi for our Anniversary. After several attempts on special occasions to "try something new", and being fairly disappointed, we given up for a little while. This time, it was our ten-year anniversary, and I wanted it to be a dinner we would remember.

I called to make a reservation about 2 weeks ahead and they had a few openings left. If I'd waited much longer, I probably would've been shit out of luck. Komi isn't quite popular enough to necessitate a thirty-day-in-advance reservation like Minibar or Citronelle, but I have this feeling it will be soon, so don't put off making that call too long.

Our reservation was at 8:30, which is probably as late as you want to go considering it's about a 3 hour meal. The meal truly is an experience from start to finish and I tend to starve myself the day of the meal, eating a very light lunch at the most, because otherwise I'll regret it later that day. If you're unfamiliar with how the menu works at Komi, there are two options: "Dinner" and "Degustazione". "Dinner" is $84 and includes the selection of mezzathakia (small tastes) at the start of the meal, a choice of pasta course, and a choice if dinner course.

Degustazione includes more mezzathakia, palate cleansers between major courses, and desert. The catch is that you don't have your choice of pasta course and entree, although I've regularly specified that I didn't want a specific pasta or entree dish because I've already had it before. Last Friday, we ordered the full Degustazione and we had a total of 14 courses, few with multiple tastes in each. The courses don't come out one after an other in rapid succession and this is a very good thing. (When eating this much food, you need to take it slow.)   

(Normally when writing up a meal at Komi, I would write about each dish in detail and how if tasted and made me feel, but this time, I think I'll spare you all and write up the highlights.)

The small tastes started with what ended up being our favorite -- a small mountain of crab on top of Greek yogurt and all lightly topped with crab roe, or what our server referred to as a warm crab salad.  The flavor of the Greek yogurt complimented the flavor of the crab surprisingly well and after all the crab was gone, there was this pool of Greek yogurt and roe left over that I really would've liked a couple pieces of bread to soak it up. This was a perfect blend of Mediterranean style cooking with local ingredients.

A new mezzethakia to the menu since our last visit to Komi was a diver scallop duo of carpaccio, with a mustard and dill sauce, and tartar, served on a little spoon with pine nuts and beets. The scallops were amazingly fresh and melted in your mouth like butter. Some of the best dishes Johnny Monis creates are simple with fresh ingredients and different flavor combinations than you normally see, and this was a perfect example of this.

Crossing the lines of dessert and appetizer, the faux gras profiterole with candied ginger and shallots, and on the same plate as a smore with a goat cheese marshmallow, mixed savory with sweet. And of course, we also had the roasted Medjool dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese and greek yogurt. No description needed.

Someday, I hope that Johnny Monis will branch out and start a restaurant where all he serves is his amazing homemade pasta. A new pasta was on the menu this time, a bluefish-filled, homemade ravioli with a summer vegetable succotash. I think that bluefish is a really under-appreciated fish and I was happy to see it on the menu. The distinctly salty, oily flavor of the fish was complimented by the sweetness of the vegetables. I spied some sliced sweet sun-gold tomatoes, a tiny orange variety of cherry tomatoes, that I've been getting at the farmers markets lately and really made the dish.

For an entree, I was happy to see the return of the roasted suckling pig. They bring the full leg out and show it to you after it's been cooked and then they slice it up and serve it on the dish with various accompaniments like a savory oregano salt, sweet blueberry mostarda, tarte pickled cabbage, eggplant puree, and habanero pepper sauce. My favorite combination was some pickled cabbage and pepper sauce. When serving the pig, the kitchen peels the crispy skin off and puts slices of it on the plate. You literally can use the skin as chips to scoop the accompaniments it's so crisp, and has a flavor better than any piece of pork you'll ever eat.

If there's any job in the world I wouldn't want to have, its the one that has to finish a long meal at Komi with dessert. Perhaps that's why I've never been very satisfied by the desserts at Komi (other than the donuts of course). At the end of a long meal like that, I'd prefer a light sorbet or pastry with filo dough rather than a chocolate cake with heavy ganache sauce like we were served.

I can't remember a time when I've ever had even the slightest issue with service at Komi. The staff at Komi really go out of their way to make the entire experience a memorable one, yet service isn't overbearing. Dishes are described in detail when they're brought out and the servers are always able to speak to the food and are very enthusiastic about the food that is coming out of the kitchen. The entire night, Derek Brown did a fantastic job with the wine pairings. The most notable I thought was a Sparkling Gruner Veltliner which I promised myself I would track down at a local wine store if I could.

One final note, since I told them it was our anniversary, we were brought a little mango lassi and fortune cookies at the very end. I quickly gobbled mine up while Amy delicately broke hers open revealing the piece of paper that said "Happy Anniversary" inside. "Jase, did you just eat your fortune?" She asked me.

"Uhm...I guess so."

Komi
1509 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 332-9200
Map

www.komirestaurant.com

Hours:
Closed Sunday and Monday.

Dress Code: Business Casual
Parking: It's very difficult to find parking in this area. There is a pay parking lot around the corner in an office building that's open until 12.
Smoking: Not Allowed.
Closest Metro: Dupont Circle
Reservations: Taken and recommended.
Baby-Child friendly rating: 1 diaper. I wish I could give it more but the atmosphere just isn't appropriate for a child.

Categories: Dupont Circle, Foodie Experiences, Mediterranean, Restaurant Reviews
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Emily B

Ever since I had the pickled cabbage at Komi, I've been absolutely craving lightly pickled greens and vegetables. Those relishes were out of this world.

Also, did you dine there when the mini apple tart with blue cheese ice cream was available? Holy wow, was it good.

Great review!!

Kimberly

Does Komi allow for dietary restrictions on the Degustazione menu? I'm not a extremely picky eater, and while your description sounds amazing, I just don't really like pork. I'd eat it in dumplings at a chinese restaurant or something like that, but don't really enjoy it as an entree at a restaurant. Komi has been on our "must try" list for a while now, but I wanted to confirm how much they can cater to requests like me not wanting pork. Thanks!

Jason

Emily, No I didn't have the apple tarte with blue cheese ice cream. That type of dessert is usually more to my taste.

Kimberly, when you make your reservation, check with them, but I recommend that you try the suckling pig. It's really not like any other pork dish you've ever had. I don't have any doubt that they'll work with your request.

Mike Bober

Congratulations on the ten year anniversary, Jason! That's terrific.

Just wanted to add a quick note to say that Komi is currently closed for a one-month break that will run through most of September. Their phone lines open September 9th for reservations after the break.

Jason

Thanks and good point Mike!

Helen Chan

Hi, do you know if Komi offer a Degustazione menu for vegetarians? I recently turned vegetarian for humanitarian reasons, but I've been to komi before (when i still eat meat) and thought the food/service/wine was divine...i'd hate to stop going....

Jason

Just tell them in advance when you make the reservation. They are usually very accommodating.

pam

I dare you to show me ONE good restaurant in d.c. i am not from here and i am shocked at the low quality of restaurants here in d.c. frankly, they are horrible

Jason

Fortunately, most, if not all, food and wine publications disagree with you Pam. Maybe you should actually try dining at the restaurants we recommend and you'd figure that out for yourself.

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