Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DC's "French Laundry" with a Mediterranean Flare

Photo Courtesy of DCist.com

I should have been able to come up with a more inventive title to describe my incredible experience at Komi last week.  But before you hate on this comparison, let me explain.  To begin, the difficulty in securing reservations at Komi very much parallels our country's most storied west coast restaurant.  While DC does not have Thomas Keller, I found Johnny Monis's talent, creativity, and commitment to seasonal, local quality ingredients to be on par with the former.

Let me get the logistics out of the way up front:
  • Reservations are taken one month to the calendar day by phone; the reservation line is open from Tuesday - Saturday from 12:00 - 5:00pm EST.
  • There are no printed menus.  While most dietary requests can be honored, the meal will consist of a dizzying array of various sized courses, ranging from mezzethakia (small, light dishes) to a pasta course and a family-style entr√©e, followed by desserts. The cost is $135; wine pairings are available for an additional $70.
  • Parties are limited to four people or less.
  • No photos (for me the hardest rule to follow because the food was stunningly beautiful).
Got it?  Now unto the good stuff.  I will start by saying that, as with all Eating Around DC's previous splurge occasion restaurant experiences, I will not detail the specifics of any dish since the element of surprise is an integral part of such an experience.  I will say however that this culinary safari was the perfect choice for me and B to celebrate our shared birthday.  Yes, we were born on the same day in the same year.  This serendipitous event is our excuse to go all-out on the special day.  And this year, knowing that we would be in DC, we both thought: Komi!

We first ate at Komi about three and a half years ago.  For DC foodies, this was way back when there was a printed menu with a price that hovered around $80 and reservations were tough to snag but not the ordeal they are now.  We loved it then, we adore it now--even as the prices have surged and the menu disappeared.  Why?  Let's start with the comfort of knowing that you will not need to make one single decision about your food.  So relax, sit back, and just wait to see what the kitchen brings forth.  Each dish seems to impossibly surpass the last in terms of presentation, unique flavor, and creativity.  We decided to do the wine pairings, which were all impeccably chosen by quirky sommelier Kathryn Bangs, who also offered to further tailor the night to our own personal wine preferences.

Our one and only decision of the night involved water--sparkling or still.  This leads me to my one and only criticism.  Of the half dozen or so restaurants of Komi's caliber that we have had the pleasure of dining at over the past year, this is the only one that charges for sparkling water.  While Pellegrino is not outrageously--though expensively--priced at $7 a bottle, this a la carte charge is irksome in an otherwise inclusive, unfussy environment.

But back to the food and the wine.  From Komi's classic stuffed dates to an innovative take on DC's half smoke to the signature housemade lollipop, each dish highlights every ingredient while simultaneously marrying together diverse textures and flavors.   The Mediterranean influence is apparent but not 'in your face.'  On the wine front, expect the unexpected: a sparkling white wine from... Greece!  And yes, it is very good.

And after enjoying wonderful service throughout a lingering spread of nearly twenty treats, we requested a kitchen tour.  Our request, graciously obliged, allowed us to see the small space where the magic happens.  We were thrilled to speak to the mastermind himself, who happens to be the same age as us!  I wish I could accomplish even a fraction of a fraction (even in my own kitchen) of what Johnny has done with Komi, but I have oh so much catching up to do--Komi is a restaurant worthy of a trip to DC just to experience this Mediterranean adventure.

Komi on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Komi is my can't miss restaurant when I am in the DC area. I started dining there in 2007 and they have never disappointed. I will be dining for my sixth time next week and am just as excited as I was for my first.