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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Komi - Washington, DC


Sitting down to write this restaurant review was daunting.  To begin with, there is no menu that I can use to give you the names of each course we tasted.  Secondly, Komi doesn't allow photography in their restaurant so I have no pictures of the food to show you.   Thirdly, what could I possibly say that hasn't already been said about this hugely popular restaurant?  What I can tell you is, it is completely worth the money and completely worth the hype.

Komi  is a modern Mediterranean restaurant that serves a pre-determined, multi-course meal.  The wait staff tells you that they are "just going to cook for you."  That and the incredibly small and simple layout of the restaurant makes you feel that you've just been invited into a chef's home for a meal of whatever they felt like making you that night.  This food is anything but home cooking, it is astounding, creative, and exciting.  The first course was an amuse bouche of steamed brioche, crème fraiche, and salmon roe.  It was beautiful, the flavors worked perfectly as one bite, and it set the entire mood of the meal.  That one bite was one of the best and most exciting bites of food I've ever had.  The steamed brioche was light and fluffy, the crème fraiche sweet and creamy, and the salmon roe exploded with the flavors of the sea as you bit into it.  I've heard chefs and critics talk about layers of flavors before, but I never really understood it until that bite of food.  After that, I was incredibly excited for the next 11 courses and was definitely not disappointed.  

Komi's menu changes and you will never know what you are getting until you are served the food.  So what I ate will probably not be what you eat there, but I can tell you that every single course was delicious and exciting.   The courses progress perfectly from light to heavy.  Some of the light dishes included the amuse bouche with which the meal started, their take on spanakopita, (which, due to its liquid center, they recommend you eat in one bite as well), and a lightly-seared bay scallop with just a touch of lemon—a simple dish done so well that it stands beside the more creative and robust courses flawlessly.  From there, the meal moves to more rich and flavorful dishes such as dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese served piping hot, foie gras two ways, a small pasta dish, and a large plate of goat with pita and various toppings.  The meal ends with the decadent chocolate desserts topped with just the right amount of salt to balance out the sweet.

Komi offers a wine pairing which they allowed my husband and I to split since neither of us wanted to try to drink 6 to 7 glasses of wine and beer along with our 12 course meal.  The wine pairing is done by their sommelier who serves each course to you before the food arrives and provides a brief explanation of what you will be drinking.  The pairing worked very well, everything complimented each other and we were enjoying the different types of wines we were getting to try.  Then, a couple of courses in, the waitress came by to clear our plates and glasses and put two very large round glasses, reminiscent of brandy snifters, in front of us for the next course and with a glint in her eyes said, "We're throwing you a curve-ball now."  The sommelier then came by and poured us a Belgian beer, which caught us both off guard.  The beer was paired with a rabbit mousse on a sourdough crostini, and it was one of the most mind blowing things I've ever experienced.  I wish I could think of a way to describe that not using the phrase mind blowing, but it really was. My husband and I sat there looking at each other, letting those tastes sit in our mouths and we were literally speechless.  It was that good.  We were still talking about that course the next day; it was so memorable.

Aside from the delicious food and perfect pairings, the service at Komi is impeccable.  Each course comes out to you in seamless timing, your table is constantly cleaned and re-set with new utensils, plates, and glasses, and your water glass is never let to become empty.  The staff seems generally excited about what they're serving you.  As they bend down to put the new plate on your table, they lean their head in to describe the dish to you in barely above a whisper.  Their eyes shine with excitement and their lips curl into devilish smiles.  Their attitude and enthusiasm conveys just how good each course is going to be and just how much they know you're going to love it.  

If you're planning to visit Komi on a trip to DC like we did, the location is very convenient, about two blocks from the nearest metro station.  We walked from where we were staying at Hotel Madera and it took us only about ten minutes which we didn’t mind since the walk is through tree-lined streets and past dreamy row houses.  When planning to eat there, you must make reservations one month in advance to the calendar date.  Also, make sure to tell them anything you're allergic to or don't like to eat so they can prepare for your meal properly.  My biggest piece of advice if you're planning a trip to Komi: come hungry.  In fact, come starving.  This is a lot of food and some of it is heavy food, you will need the room!  

The memory of my meal at Komi is already starting to fade like all big moments do; becoming a blur of sights, sounds, and tastes.  Eating at Komi is just that, eating, but it’s also an experience.  It's one of those times in your life that you can't explain to someone that wasn't there.  But you can remember the feeling, how big it was to you, and you can tell them, that made me love the act of eating; that made me excited about food.  That was something.

Here are some links to help you learn more about Komi:

Website
Urbanspoon
Yelp

Komi on Urbanspoon

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