Thursday, September 3, 2009

Komi review

Ah Komi. One of the few restaurants in the Washington DC area to have the much coveted four star status-and I got to go there for my Birthday!

I am, of course, a devoted foodie and I kept on coming across tidbits about this restaurant (particularly from I mean, the place has just as many stars as the world renowned Inn at Little Washington and is almost as pricey-so it must be good right?

Recently my boyfriend Justin and I went on a trip to France and at one of the little bistro's we met a couple that spoke french and offered to help translate the menu for us. Delighted, we struck up a conversation and it turned out they were from Dupont circle and were fellow food fanatics. Inevitably we got into a discussion about DC restaurants and I proudly announced that Justin was taking me to Komi for my Birthday when we returned from the trip. The woman gushed about how it was her favorite restaurant in DC-elevating my expectations to a dangerous level.

You know what happens when you have high expectations. Just like when you go to a movie that has had rave reviews and you have to steal yourself and repeat in your mind that it will be awful just so that you ensure your high expectations won't ruin the experience-so should you do with restaurants.

Komi takes a 'break' every year at the end of the summer and closes for about a month so Justin and I were only able to get reservations that were close to my brithday-since they would actually be closed ON my birthday. Komi also has only 2 seating times-5:30 and 8:30. We opted for the 5:30 one because we are early diners.

The atmosphere:
We didn't get to experience the atmosphere right away because when we arrived at 5:30 the door was still locked so we had to walk around the block in the blistering heat a few times before one of the waitresses spotted us and came to unlock the door. The room itself was quite small with a smattering of tables which could be seen from the kitchen. Though you couldn't see what they were cooking/chopping/baking or anything else of that sort in the kitchen you could see curious chefs peering out and laughing every now and then-particularly when the waiter went back. I always had the strangest feeling he would tell us about our questions or something we had said about the food that had sounded a bit silly. Overall it was a relaxed setting.

The Service:
The waiters and waitresses were impeccable. There were just so many of them for the few people that were there! They were always refilling our glasses and bustling by. The only problem I had was how fast they rattled off the descriptions about what we were going to eat. I really like to KNOW what this expensive food I am about to put in my mouth consists of so I can remember and judge and appreciate.

The Food:
Well, if your a seafood lover you'll love Komi. If not-I wouldn't really recommend the place. You have 2 options for dinner-either choosing a main course and getting little mezze (appetizers) before that and chose a pasta or else go with the tasting menu. To get the full experience we went with the tasting menu.

The majority of the 'little dishes' there were at least 14 were amuse bouche (ltitle bites) and were some variety of sea food. The first dish was a sashimi which was served in a chicken like broth and littered with small, powerful chives. There were oysters that were served with a yolky substance on top and if you like the sea had a pleasant taste. I recall a small brioche stuffed with a sour cream concoction and topped with caviar. The grilled octopus was quite nice and I thought was cooked quite perfectly. There was an heirloom tomato salad which was just that-a bunch of tomatoes. There was also a tasty but redundant tuna burger with a cold grapfruit tomato 'soup' served in a little grass.

A big disappointment was the date stuffed with marscapone. I had though Komi was all about 'freshness' and 'seasonality' but this date was dried and sweetened-a huge let down for someone who has experienced the heavenliness of a fresh date melting in your mouth. The biggest let down-however-was this scallop dish which had scallops that had the most awful consistency imaginable. I have had good scallops and these were most certainly not it.

One of my favorite 'tastes' was this little fried cube which the chef, the waiter informed me, thought of as his version of Caesar salad. When I bit into the cube there was a burst of ceasar dressing taste and cheesy loveliness. Quite nice.

For the pasta course we got two different pastas each, which was nice. One was the ravioli stuffed with corn and in another broth. This I compared to the Medicino grill's corn stuffed ravioli and thought that Medicino came out on top. The other dish was a cheesy form of gnocchi which also let down a bit.

Before the main course the waiter came out and displayed the huge leg of a pig (not the most appetizing site) to us at the request of the chef and asked for our approval. The pork was quite amazingly good-I have never had such good pork. the chunks which were very tender and not overly fatty were infused with the taste of bacon. They gave us a HUGE amount of the pork and it was served with 'home made pita' (which was overly greasy and not so great) and a variety of sauces-a tzatziki sauce, a spicy red sauce, and the grilled eggplant sauce I can't recall the name at the moment) which had way too much of some indian spice in it as well as some salt with oregano. Justin managed to stuff all of it down his gullet, making little pork sandwiches with the pita and the sauces. I was impressed. Notably there was a nice dish that has fresh mozzarella with a pesto sauce that followed.

Perhaps trying to make amends for the date disaster we were presented with a fresh fig which appeased me greatly (who doesn't love fresh figs-and they are so hard to find).There was a snowball sangria which I let Justin eat since I am not fond of alcoholic dished. The other desserts were...interesting. Justin got a ball that had a dark chocolate shell filled with mint ice cream with a salty chocolate biscuit at the bottom. I had a bar that had two different layers of chocolate, a layer of peanut brittle and this gel like substance on the top which was like pho-caramel but not as good as caramel (and I'm not even a big caramel fan).

I believe that was the majority of the meal. It was incredibly expensive but quite the experience for a foodie like me who had a) never experienced a tasting menu and b) never been to a 4 star restaurant (I think). Perhaps Justin will remind me of some dishes which I will add later. The chef does need to have less of a heavy hand with a salt and I felt like the creativity was lacking a bit-where were the incredible sauces? The 'inventive' dishes?

We left after paying a hefty check and tasting some of their 'home made' root bear lollipops. I hope the Inn at Little Washington-which Justin had promised to take me on our 4 year anniversary-tops this experience.

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