Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

December 22, 2009 10:55 PM

Restaurant: KOMI


1509 17th Street NW
Washington, D.C.
Reservations 202-332-9200
I went to Komi with Libby, Heather and Tony. This restaurant is a "must" for your list of places to eat when you want a special meal.

Komi is on the 2nd floor of an unassuming building above a dry cleaner. It is reached by an outdoor wrought iron stair case. The dining room is long and relatively narrow, with a kitchen at the far end. There is an open doorway and a large window through which you can watch the food being prepared.

The walls of the restaurant are painted a light cream color and the floor is of well- honed wood planks. The lighting is such that there is a generally comfortable feeling about the room. Scattered around the room are high sconces with real burning candles.

There are two overall "dinner" options.

The 1st option is called "Dinner" - $90 - which is only offered on Tuesday- Thursday. The 2nd option is "Degustazione” - $125. It is offered Tuesday - Saturday. [Wine is extra.]

We selected the "Dinner." The "Degustazione" is apparently an even larger version of the "Dinner."

Dinner began with a selection of "Mezzetkakia" (a series of "small" dishes or hors d'oeuvres). There is generally about one bite per person.

Sliced yellow fin
Steamed brioche topped with creme freshe and caviar
Tartare of Alaskan king salmon with candied pine nuts
Crispy Caesar salad (not like any Caesar salad you have ever eaten)
Tiny hoagie sandwich
Grilled octopus with braised Brussel sprouts
Prosciutto Sendanide

For a first course, Libby and Tony selected the Kabocha Agnolotti with blood oranges & speck. Heather and I had the Pappardelle with a ragu of rabbit & olives. Of course we all shared tastes.

For their entree Heather and Tony opted for the Roasted Katsikaki. Libby and I went for the Roasted Suckling Pig. (Three of the four dishes offered as entrees were for two persons. The 3rd dish for two was Cavrari Me Alati. The only dish that seemed to be designed for one person was Cauliflower Flan with smoked greens.)

1/4 of a suckling pig is roasted, skin and all, and then sliced after presentation. This was the first time I ate suckling pig. It is quite good.

The Katsikaki is cooked whole in a mound of salt and then served filleted.

The separate dessert menu offered four treats. We ordered all of them and had a tasting, Greek Doughnuts with a mocha milkshake; Frozen Baklava; Chocolate Tart with Pomegranate & green tea; Caramel Apple with malt & ginger.

Tony selected the wines.

The service was as close to perfect as a restaurant might get. Everything came with an explanation.

Johnny Monis, the owner/chef, is 24 years old.

This is not a place to go for a "quick" dinner. We were eating for about 2 1⁄2 hours, but it did not drag. And it is not a meal that you will want to have too often.

For those who invariably request that there be one or more changes to items on the menu, this is not the place for you. First, you don't know in advance what will be delivered in the way of small dishes. And, given the nature of the items for which there is a choice, modification is not a logical option.

The men's room is near the back of the restaurant, up two stairs. The room is not very large, but of ample size. On the wall to the right of the door there is a white ceramic washbasin with a silver framed mirror above it. The towels are cloth. On the wall opposite the door there is a white ceramic commode and a white ceramic, wall-attached, urinal. There is no separator between them. The walls are covered with large square charcoal gray tiles with light accents and swirls. The floor is covered with large black tiles.

Dress is nice, but casual, like so many of the restaurants in the area and increasingly around D.C.

Reservations are accepted up to one month before the date you would like to visit. We got our reservation by calling and asking what dates might be available. The first date suggested was only 10 days from our phone call.

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