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September 2008

Etete Restaurant

Pic0234_2 I've been wrong for a while about Etete. A couple years back, I went to Etete, before it was remodeled, or had been written up by everyone and their brother and I had a horrible experience. The food was lackluster and the service was bad -- so bad I almost walked out. So, with so many choices in DC for Ethiopian food, I never went back.

Meanwhile, everyone has been talking about it like it's the greatest Ethiopian food you can get in DC. Many blogs have written about it; The Post; Washingtonian; Food and Wine. I've been wondering what happened that first time I went there so long ago. Was it some kind of fluke? Did I happen to walk into the place next door by mistake? I had to know.

We had a chance to stop by Etete last week. Amy has been craving Ethiopian food for a while now and we just happened to be over in the U Street area. With as much as we've all heard about Etete, I was surprised that we were able to walk in and sit down immediately. The seating is first come first serve, and the tables are very close together.A large group of boisterous friends having a great time were seated at the table right next to us, but we didn't mind. However, mood and atmosphere are probably not the best reasons to go here.

As I mentioned before, the restaurant has been remodeled since we were last there. You used to be able to sit at the bar and that's gone now, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether or not you're someone who likes to sit alone at a bar to eat. As part of the remodel, the owners added seating upstairs too.

Amy only wanted vegetarian dishes, but I was in the mood for some Kitfo so we ordered both. I was very curious what Etete's Special Kitfo. What made is so special? The server asked how I wanted it cooked, raw, medium, or well. I can't imagine eating kitfo cooked. I know the first time I ordered it at an Ethiopian restaurant, I was nervous. Eating raw beef is always a bit of a risk, but someone once put it to me this way. "What's the difference between kitfo and steak tartare?"

If your a vegetarian eating with non-vegetarian people, you should note that Etete (and most other Ethiopian restaurants for that matter) bring out the dishes all on the same plate. So it's likely that once everyone starts digging in with their injera that your vegetarian lentil dish will get mixed in with some of the sauces from the meat dishes. My kitfo was in the middle and all of Amy's various vegetarian dishes were surrounding it: red and yellow lentils; shaved cabbage and carrots; mustard, garlic and onion lentils; and tomatoes and onions.

I have to say that all of our food was really excellent. The kitfo was very tender and lean, and the flavors were a perfect combination of butter and spice, yet you could still taste the flavor of the meat. The special seasoned cottage cheeses were a nice compliment as well. I was mixing in some of Amy's vegetarian dishes and everything just went wonderfully together or by itself. We ate everything on the plate and I had room for more so we ate the injera that they cover the plate with.

(Actually, writing about this one an empty stomach is making me want to go back very soon.)

The service was fine. I mean, I'm not looking for 4 or 5 star treatment at a place like this, but I'm mainly looking for the server to come by and check on us once is a while to make sure that everything is okay and and that we don't need anything else. The servers did all of that pretty well. The only issue we had the whole night is that the Coke that Amy ordered initially was completely frozen and somehow shaken up at the same time. When she opened it, it fizzed up all over the place, but because it was frozen, she couldn't open it all the way so it just continued to fizz and fizz. The tables next to us noticed and were giving us their napkins, but there wasn't enough and it was about the run off the table onto our laps. The servers seemed completely oblivious as they walked by several times until I yelled out "Help!". It was actually quite comical.

I also ordered some honey wine for the first time, but I probably won't again. It was too sweet for my taste. I can see how it contrasts some of the spicier Ethiopian dishes OK, but I'd much rather prefer a good lager with Ethiopian food.

I think it's safe to say that our first visit, like the Coke "incident" this time, was somewhat of a fluke. I probably should've gone back to Etete sooner, but like I said, there are so many options for Ethiopian food in DC that it was hard to, which really shows how hard it can be for restaurants. One bad experience can turn a diner off for a long time. I'm happy to say we'll be going back soon.

Etete
1942 9th Street NW
Washington DC 20009
(202) 232-7600
Map

www.eteterestaurant.com

Dress Code: Very Casual
Parking: Street Parking can sometimes be found
Closest Metro: U Street
Reservations: Not Taken
Baby-Child friendly rating: 2 diapers. They have child seats, but that's about it when it comes to kids. Not kids menu or anything like that, so unless you think your child will eat Tibs or Wat, you should probably think twice about it.


Go Bananas!

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I have to say, I think bananas are probably my favorite fruit. They are delicious no matter what you do to them. You can fry them, you can put them with ice cream, you can add them into salads, you can eat them frozen (and dipped in chocolate), you can blend them into a milkshake (possibly my favorite method of consumption), and you can bake them into delicious, delicious bread (my second favorite method of consumption). It takes little to no skill to make a banana milkshake: banana (preferably frozen) + milk + vanilla + blender = YUMMY. But bread takes a little more finesse.

Lucky for me, my mother makes an amazing banana bread. I asked her for her recipe and she promptly emailed it to me, at which point I realized there were a bunch of weird things in it. Ground oats. Ground flaxseed. Things I didn't have handy. Which was why, after some deliberations (and apologies to Mom, who promises to provide the ground oats I still need for her recipe, and when I get them expect a compare-and-contrast!), I turned to my favorite baking website Orangette for her take on things.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly. She had a topping which I found unnecessary -- why would you take any focus away from those incredibly delicious bananas?! -- and I am partial to a banana bread that is tastes strongly of bananas, but which isn't overly sweet (let's just say my sweet tooth is limited), so I eliminated her use of honey, an extra source of sweetness for her bread. The result was moist, rich, banana-y, and delicious...

Banana Bread adapted from Orangette

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

011 Preheat your oven to 350 F. Either grease a 9 x 5 inch pan well with butter and dust with flour, or spray very, very lightly with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. I used parchment, because it makes it much easier to get the bread out of the pan when you're done -- just lift by the top of the paper, then peel it away.

In a medium-sized bowl combine your flour, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir together. Mush up your three bananas (no food processor necessary, but make sure they're well-mushed), then combine them with the eggs, oil, and water in a larger bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine well. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick (or a chopstick, which is all I had handy) stuck into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Allow to cool at least a little bit before eating it. Mine was absolutely fantastic. (If you notice, there's 022 one and a half slices in that picture. That's because it was impossible for me to take a 2-second picture without eating half the slice as I focused my camera). I smooth a nice thick layer of cream cheese over my slices, and I recommend you do, too. If you are partial to a sweeter banana bread, see Orangette's recipe.

One note: Frozen bananas are banana bread's godsend. Got a couple extras no one seems to want to eat before they go over-ripe? Toss 'em in the freezer, save 'em for banana bread. It takes about an hour to two hours to thaw in your sink, and if they seem weird or watery don't sweat it. There is absolutely zero effect on the texture or taste of your bread; they are as good as fresh bananas.


Carpe Brunch!

Image071 This is a brunching town. Whether it's eggs and art at the Corcoran or pints of Bloody Marys at Whitlow's on Wilson, we take this weekend meal seriously.

While I'm not a Washingtonian by birth (who is around here?), I can fully appreciate this a.m./p.m. event. But if I'm going to give brunch its due, why would I do it from the confines of my kitchen? As we move into the fall, we're only afforded so many more days to enjoy dining outdoors. Soon enough, there will simply be too much nip in the air to comfortably laze away a Saturday or Sunday mornings on the patio.


So why waste a moment in the kitchen when you can cook brunch on the grill? Besides, I bet the last time you fired up the grill before noon was in the Fed Ex Field parking lot.
Brunch is equal parts decadence and repose. So don't over think it and don't sweat it. I'm thinking French toast with grilled plums and eggs cooked in warm pouches of thinly sliced Spanish ham.


Ah, ham. It really isn't brunch without pork on the plate. This eggs and ham recipe is based on a technique I came across in "Grilled to Perfection," the cookbook by the folks behind the grilling TV show, "License to Grill" on Food Network Canada. While authors Chris Knight and Tyler Smith call for cooking the eggs on the grill in muffin tins -- a great idea -- they don't take the recipe to its logical end: lining the muffin tins with ham and hiding a nub of soft, creamy cheese at the bottom.


(Geez, how could they not add pork?)


As for the French toast, it's a no brainer. You have to work quickly, as you're cooking over direct heat, but the slices of battered bread toast perfectly on the grill. And grilling plums is as easy as it gets.

To top all this off, skip the mimosas and pour Prosecco over a bit of pomegranate juice. The royal purple cocktail is different and delicious.


Muffin tin ham and eggs with grilled fruit French toast

(Makes 4 servings)


(For the ham and eggs)

Image008

8 eggs

8 slices of Serrano ham, very thinly sliced

4 one ounce pieces of soft cow's milk or goat's milk cheese

1/4 cup green onions or shallots, finely chopped

1/3 cup finely diced chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Non-stick cooking spray

Aluminum foil


Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Spray a 8 or 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, making sure to coat each cup.

Layer the ham into each muffin cup, making sure the cover the inside edges completely. Place a small piece of cheese at the bottom of each cup. Crack a single egg into each cup. Sprinkle the egg with finely diced onions and chives.

Image048Image032_3

Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover loosely with foil, place the muffin tin on the hottest part of the grill and close the lid.

Cook for approximately 14-16 minutes until desired doneness.

Serve hot.


(For the French toast and grilled fruit)


8 thick slices of potato bread (or whatever bread you have on hand)

3 eggs

3 tbs. of milk

2 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbs. powdered sugar

4 plums, cut into halves


Station all the ingredients by the grill and preheat the grill to medium heat. When the grill is hot (and the coals are ashed over) prepare the egg batter by whisking together the eggs, milk, nutmeg and cinnamon. Dip each slice of bread into the batter, coating thoroughly. Allow each slice to drain of all excess before placing on the grill. Image023


Making sure to oil the grates before you begin, place the slices over the hottest part of the grill, making  sure not to crowd them. Cook each side for 30 seconds, flip and cook for another 30 seconds.


Once you've finished with the French toast, set aside. Place the fruit halves on the grill, cooking each side for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the fruit and cut into quarters.


To serve, layer the fruit over the French toast, dust with powdered sugar and drizzle it all with maple syrup.

Image064

(For the pomegranate Prosecco cocktail)

3/4 ounce of pomegranate juice

4 ounces of Prosecco


Pour the pomegranate juice into the bottom of a Champagne flute and top off with Prosecco.


Serve cold and enjoy.


Weekly Blog Round Up

Purple_tomatillos_800 Heard around the DC Foodies blogosphere this week...I'm resisting the urge to write symbol-filled-safe-for-work expletives here when I tell you that confirmation came first this week from Don Rockwell that Gordon Ramsey is all but certain to take over the former Maestro in the Tysons Corner Ritz Carlton. Yes?

In more restaurant news, Ris Lacoste, most recently of 1789, is expected to open her long-awaited restaurant called "Ris" next spring. Expect 170 seats inside, and a large patio outdoors, according to Metrocurean's "Coming Soon".

Speaking of Ris (short for Doris--rhymes with bliss), Food Service Monthly shares a photo of her winning the first DC Central Kitchen's Food Fight. Ris is indeed a champion for DC Central Kitchen, and she looks forward to welcoming a generous donation of lambs from Don Rockwell member, Pax. DR members will be volunteering at DC Central Kitchen to help process the lambs, and feed folks who deserve the bounty of delicious food.

With summer winding to an end, local food bloggers are continuing to rejoice in the glory of summer produce; knowing that all to soon, it will be gone. The Garden Apartment pines about Toigo Orchard's sweet corn and peaches, and her favorite little orange tomatoes at Anchor Nursery at the Dupont Market.

Foodie Tots gives us a Fresh From the Farmers Market Round Up for August, including peach salsa, ribs with peach bbq sauce, peach-opal basil lemonade and peach berry sherbet.

Capital Spice tells readers how to "squeeze in a little more summer" by visiting the Quarter Deck for crabs, enjoying tart froyo and gelato from Dolcezza.

Washingtonian's Best Bites Blog offers us the "Best of Summer Food" this week. Avail yourself of a Tuscan Frozen Sangria from Gina Cherevavni at EatBar, or the deck at Marvin.

Last, by all means, if Hanna and Ike bring the Huricannapolypse to DC, let your last meal be a burger, summer corn and watermelon at Ray's Hell Burgers in Arlington. Or, reports self-appointed improprietor, Michael Landrum, at Ray's: The Classics in Silver Spring. Yes, Virginia, there is a burger AND beer.


Ja, ist es das Oktoberfestbiers!

As I'd mentioned in my post on Summer Seasonals, the beer industry's take on a temperate climate differs greatly from Mother Nature's. In an effort to not miss the party (and to not be left with unsaleable product) distributors often release their Oktoberfest beers a good three or four weeks before the main event, which this year officially begins at noon on September 20th. Whatever the motive, the beers are here, and considering the unseasonably cool weather we've experienced of late, I figured now an opportune time to sample this year's batch (the things I do for you people, I swear!). Though there are numerous domestic models up for grabs, propriety demands that I first attend to the Germans.

German Oktoberfestbier is typically made in what is known as the "Marzen" style. Before the wonders of modern refrigeration, brewing in Germany was limited to the cooler months, so as to prevent spoilage and facilitate lager production. In the 19th century, large amounts of beer were made in March (Marzen), and laid in cold storage until late September, when it was released upon the country in celebration of the beginning of a new brewing season. This tradition has evolved over the years, and now manifests itself in the incredible climax that is the Munich Oktoberfest, the largest annually occurring festival in the history of the world, which is still fueled by traditional Marzen lager. These beers are often characterized by a rich, golden red color, mild hops, and a slight malty character — though there are many variations on the theme and breakers from the pack. Here is a rundown of the German Oktoberfestbiers I have sampled so far.

Becks Beck's Oktoberfest
Abv: 5.0%

Appearance: A golden red like autumn leaves, with a thin, off-white head.

Aroma: Roasty malt, with a hint of caramel sweetness.

Taste: Relatively subtle notes of nuts and dried leaves, along with the typical Beck's effervescence. Very dry, with a acerbic quality on the finish.

The right choice for...
Someone in a drinkin' mood. Like the ubiquitous Beck's Lager, this beer is dry, low in flavor and high on fizz. Great if you are drinking to forget, but may come off a bit insipid to those looking for anything in the way of depth.

Spaten Spaten Oktoberfest
Abv: 5.9%

Appearance: Burnt umber with red/gold highlights. Practically no head.

Aroma: Sweet malt and a fresh, savory spice note.

Taste: Bitter earth with a sweet edge on the front; full and creamy textured, with enough effervescence to leave a slight tingling sensation on the finish. Savory spice flavors linger for several seconds after swallowing.

The right choice for...
Someone in the market for a relatively rich, hearty lager with a great balance of bitterness and sweetness. This beer would make a great pair with brats cooked in beer and onions!

Paulaner Paulaner Oktoberfest
Abv: 5.8%

Appearance: Dark amber, with gold highlights. Very thin but lingering head.

Aroma: Wheatey, with a light and pleasing floral quality.

Taste: Round and full, with slight flavors of grains and cherries. A short, mellow finish, with elements of forest floor and fruit skins.

The right choice for...
Someone in the market for a more feminine Marzen with wide food pairing capabilities. This beer, while rich in texture for its style, is subtly flavored enough to be ideal with many autumnal favorites, from squash to pecan pie.

Hofbrau Hofbrau Oktoberfest
Abv: 6.0%

Appearance: Straw gold with an orange hue; almost no head.

Aroma: Slightly skunky/sweet aromas, typical of a German pilsener.

Flavor: Slightly malty on the front with sharp, grainy elements. The finish was clean and short, with the just the tiniest lingering flavor of toffee.

The right choice for...
Someone who doesn't really like Oktoberfestbier. Tasted blind, I would have sworn this was a well-made but run-of-the-mill German lager, despite a slightly malty character.

Erdinger Erdinger Oktoberfest Weissbier
Abv: 5.6%

Appearance: Hazy golden brown with a thin, fine bubbled head.

Aroma: Malty and slightly sweet, with a bit of that yeasty spice typical of weissbiers.

Flavor: Dry and spicy on the front, with a full, heavy texture. The finish is long, lingering for several seconds with pleasing notes of spice and toast.

The right choice for...   
Someone in the market for a more serious seasonal drink. Weissbiers are a bit of an acquired taste, so novices beware. However, the Erdinger Oktoberfest is one of the mildest examples of this type, so this might actually be the perfect intro beer for those looking to experience the wider range of German styles.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the beers autumn has to offer. Next week, we'll take a look at what the Americans bring to the table. Later, as autumn begins in earnest, I'll review this year's crop of American pumpkin ales, those most awesome of all seasonal beverages. (Again, the crosses I bear for you guys...)


CommonWealth Gastro Pub - First Impressions

Pic0235 About one month ago, Jamie Leeds and business partner Sandy Lewis opened CommonWealth Gastro Pub in the up and coming (or perhaps already came) Columbia Heights neighborhood. Conveniently located at the top of the steps of the Columbia Heights metro, it's an quick metro ride from anywhere in the DC area.

For a "pub", CommonWealth is quite large and offers 35-seat outdoor patio. While the decor is trying to make it look rustic and worn out, it needs a bit more breaking in before it will have that neighborhood pub feel. I don't mind either way though because I tend to focus on the food rather than the decor, but be warned that if you're looking for a quite evening meal, this is not the place for you. After 6 PM, the happy hour crowd is in full swing and it gets loud and boisterous. The cement walls don't help much with this either.

Pic0236 Much to our liking here at D.C. Foodies, the menu concentrates on local ingredients for a majority of it's menu. Many of the pork products come from the local vendor, Eco-Friendly. In fact, half a pig gets delivered each week for use in the regular dishes on the menu like the cured pork belly, head cheese, and rilletes. The loin and shoulder cuts are used for other special dishes throughout the week as well. I can attest to the quality of the meat from personal experience at the local farmers' markets in Dupont and Arlington. The grass-fed beef is sourced locally from a farm in Maryland, and most of the vegetables come from farms local to MD, VA, and PA.

Rarebit_yorkshire_etc The bar at CommonWealth boasts two cask-conditioned ales. You'll find two on the menu on the chalk board with a US pint being around $7.50, and an English pint running you around $8.50. If you're wondering what the difference is between a US and English pint, and English pint is roughly 1.2 US pints. I had a Victory Prima Pilsner on my second trip after the casks were finally ready. The beer lacks the bubbly texture of a typical keg beer, but was all flavor. The cask beer is served a little warmer too which allowed the flavor of the beer to come to the surface.

So there are the facts...now lets see what we thought from our visits.

Rob's
I am a great fan of Great Britain's beers -- for casual drinking, you can have your extremely hoppy American IPAs; I'll take a bitter, please. This was reason enough to compel me to make the trek to Commonwealth, and to drag along a couple of good friends. The promise of cuisine based on deep frying only sweetened the deal.

Scotch_egg Since our party consisted of a good number of close friends, we wound up ordering a mish-mash of appetizers and entrees, and casually sampled a little of each. To describe everything I ate would take far too much space; suffice it to say the food ran the gamut from awesome to awful. The scotch egg from the "Snack" menu and the "Butcher's Plate" pork belly were the two standouts in my mind. The former was crispy and flavorful, and came with a great selection of sauces, including a parsley/anchovy concoction that complimented the dish beautifully. The pork was subtlety seasoned and beautifully textured -- it is obvious that Commonwealth puts a lot of stock in the quality of their charcuterie, and I wish we had ordered more from this section.

The biggest disappointments of the night were the Welsh Rarebit and the Yorkshire Pudding. These are both British treats I've enjoyed in the past, and I was rather let down with Commonwealth's dry, tough, flavorless offerings. I have a feeling that both were reheated, and therefore overcooked -- if such is the case, the chef still has a bit of work to do in the prep kitchen.

Everything else was good, but forgettable in light of our fantastic apps. All in all, everyone was satisfied and completely stuffed. When the check arrived, and we found that we owed only about $50 per person, food AND drink included, no one found any reason for complaint.

Loved: The fantastic quality of certain dishes, the warm and welcoming service, and the undeniable value per calorie consumed.

Hated: The inconsistency between dishes, especially on those well known British classics.

If I lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, Commonwealth would be my go to place for a pint and a bit of meat over a game of football (American or otherwise). If you are a fan of British fare, I heartily suggest you visit, as you are unlikely to find anything more authentic in the DC area, especially at so reasonable a price. That said, if you are not an ardent Anglophile, I cannot advise you go too far out of your way yet, as the food is a little inconsistent still.

Mine
Shortly after I received the press release about the soon to open CommonWealth, I found out that the chef de cuisine would be none other than Antonio Burrell, previously of Viridian in Dupont Circle and Eleventh Street Lounge in Arlington. I've been a big fan of Antonio Burrell as he's not only an amazing chef, but he's also been a frequent commenter on DC Foodies.

Pic0243 I eagerly awaited the opening of the restaurant and I had the opportunity to make two separate trips, both with significantly different outcomes. On my first trip, I stopped by without reservation on shortly after opening day with a friend of mine. The service was warm and embracing and the food exactly what I expected. Our server made a point to make sure that our questions about the dishes were answered.  I had the bangers and mash with onion sauce. The dish only came with one large sausage, but the sausage was juicy and perfectly cooked with great flavor.

My friend also had the fish and chips which was crispy but not over fried and and the chips (or fries) were crispy as well. While I know that's not "traditional", I despise oily chips. You can also order sides of chips for $5 with cheese and/or gravy for an extra $2 each. While that might sound a little steep, I think they're worth it. The other starters or "Snacks" range from $5 to $13 and tend to be expensive for the portion size.

On my second trip, I went with a much larger group of people later in the evening. We were a party of 8 with two children. Suffice it to say, service was not as smooth as I would've liked between dishes that we ordered not coming out at all and dishes coming out cold, but I chalk that up to the size of our party and how soon it was after they opened. I had a roasted veal sweetbreads special that was slightly inconsistent at $23. The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked and tender on the inside, but the prawns that came with it were small and dry.  My friends oyster pie was only lukewarm, but a couple of people in our party recently from England said they thought the food was very authentic.

Beer selection is still growing. When I was there last, all of the taps were not completely installed, but they still have a good selection of US and British tap beers. Beers by the bottle tend to run on the expensive side  for my taste, especially the imports.

Loved: Great local food at reasonable prices; two available cask ales; good cheese selection.

Hated: Inconsistencies in the service of the food; expensive "Snacks", pricey beers by the bottle.

CommonWealth Gastro Pub
1400 Irving St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 265-1400
Map

Reservations

web site


Komi Restaurant

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.