Judging Restaurants – Komi


Well, you knew we’d eventually get to Komi located at 1509 17th Street, NW. You can see their menu on their Web site in a pdf version. I think it’s probably unanimous that the food is great. What I’m wondering is – is the food worth the price? And as always, how’s the atmosphere inside?

25 Comment

  • by far the best restaurant in dc. absolutely phenomenal. totally worth the price, and perfect service too. oh, and they’ll make their menu vegetarian if you want them to, and it’s still absolutely amazing.

  • totally overrated, overpriced, over hyped.

    try pallena
    or cityzen
    or ten others

    komi is OVER RATED

  • Fantastic, lovely, delicious, and I can’t afford to eat there!

  • Extremely expensive, perhaps the most expensive restaurant in DC proper, but very, very good. Probably one of those places you need to go to once in your life, if you really love food.

  • I think it’s worth it; it was by far the best meal I’ve eaten in DC. I know another commentor suggested Palena, but I really don’t think you can even compare the two. Komi is really in a different place; some of the concepts and presentation are much more creative or innovative. If you just want a good steak or something, I wouldn’t come here. If you’re interested in food for food’s sake and would like have your tastebuds challenged, then I think you will like your experience at Komi.

    Also, when I went, we recieved 7 different small plates before our pasta and main courses. In addition to dessert, we recieved some homemade pineapple anise lollipops. So if you think about it, you’re getting a lot of courses for the price and the quality of the food is top notch.

  • Treads a fine line between brilliant simplicity and pseudo-self-effacing pretentiousness. A respect for ingredients and a commitment to allowing them to shine of their own powers tempered by a minimalism that flirts too often with boring. How you feel about the place may turn on how you feel about what appears to be a signature dish: two dates, stuffed with marscapone cheese and sprinkled with a bit of designer salt. Sometimes I’m tempted to ask if Monis can actually cook, or just shop. Sorry, I meant to say “source.”

    And, while Tom Sietsema was vilified for coming out and saying it, sitting through 15 or 20 bite-sized courses (irregularly spaced last time I ate there) can get to be a bit fatiguing over the course of four hours. Especially if you find yourself waiting 25 minutes for those dates.

    I enjoy the place, but I think Komi-worship is strongly influenced by back-story and restaurant fashion: plucky Greek boy opens restaurant at 27, turns it into nationally-know restaurant by 30, and brilliantly combines eco-friendly food with an earthy-crunchy townhouse setting (think a really nice dinner party hosted by someone who did a decent reno on their home, and likes to keep the place dark), creating a stark contrast with the crystal-and-silver expense account palaces who are its culinary competitors.

    What’s not to like?

    But, given limited dining funds, I might go elsewhere, first — especially as the prices rising almost as fast as their stack of glowing press clippings.

    It would be unfair not to note that despite my mixed opinions, Washingtonian Magazine just ranked it #1 in the area.

  • This is one of those places that just seems to fit exactly with what I love about restaurants. First off, the food is outstanding, creative, and a dozen other superlatives. The chef puts a considerable amount of thought and effort into his creations, and it really shows. Starting off with the mini plates and ending with the goat – its an amazing juxtaposition and I think it works brilliantly. Also, the place is intimate, service outstanding, and the night I was there the music was Vampire Weekend. Clearly, this is a restaurant of the highest caliber run by someone of my generation – he is having a great time, and I think that really shows. All in all, excellent without being intimidating at all.

  • I have never eaten there, but I will back up Palena, which is my favorite restaurant in this city hands down.

  • i ate at komi a few months after they switched to the priz fixe format and before all the hype, so I didn’t know of any hype or backstory. I was just blown out of the water by how good it is. i have not eaten at Palena so I can’t compare but I much preferred Komi to my recent dinner at CityZen, which I thought was good (in particular the service and wine pairings) but did not compare to Komi at all…

  • I’d love to be rich enough to eat there. One special occasion, I’m sure I’ll make it. I’m sure the raise I got will help me save up eventually. It’s supposed to be the best restaurant in DC and I’d love to test that theory.

    anoneemoo, you can’t really make a blanket statement about a restaurant being overrated, overpriced, and overhyped and then not say why. Could you please tell us what, spefically, was overrated, overpriced, or overhyped about Komi?

  • I ended up at Komi for my anniversary because it was in the same space as the restaurant where my now husband and I had our first date — hadn’t heard any hype. It was the best meal I have ever had. EVER. I’ve never been to Citronelle or the Inn at Little Washington, but I’ve been to most of the other fancy area restaurants, including Palena. Komi was amazing, but also very expensive (and this was three years ago or so), so I won’t likely get back soon. But man, that place was exceptional.

  • Just say no… This is the resturant that the famous Wendy’s ad about the little teeny food on the big plate is about. 20 dishes smaller than a sushi-roll section, and you have to wait for each one to be served as it’s made.

    Seriously, it makes nouvo-french cuising look good.

  • If not the best in DC, among the top 3. I think it is fantastic and worth every penny.

    Anybody who complains that the portions aren’t large enough doesn’t understand the principle and their opinion should be discounted. If you want a lot of food for a little money, there are numerous other options. If you want wonderful, amazing, creative and exceptionally presented food, go to Komi.

    Komi is certainly far better than Palena, which I love. Komi has a more rustic atmosphere than places like Citizen and Citronelle, but it is simply fantastic.

  • Just for reference – what is “expensive” to everyone. I am only curious so I know what to expect if I ever want to visit. Are we talking $150 a head or more?

  • Assuming wine, tax and tip I’d think that $150/head would be close to the absolute minimum you could spend; I’d budget $200. At least.

    The “cheap” menu is $90, the 3-course wine paring $42 (according to the website) which with 10% tax and 20% tip comes to $172.

    Degustation is $125.

  • one of the best in the city

  • Yes, it is worth the price — if one enjoys fine (and slightly unconventional) food. My partner and I ate at Komi twice in 2008 — once for each of our birthdays. These were the two best meals we had all year. The food was extraordinary — particularly the series of openers (which were different in the two visits). Service is highly gracious and helpful without being imperious, condescending, or overly chummy. We had two really great dining experiences.

    Having said that, the restaurant is not for everyone, price issues notwithstanding. It lacks things one would expect in a really high-end restaurant, including valet parking and a bread service. The furnishings are more functional than luxurious or stylish; CityZen offers a far more sleek setting to eat first-rate food. Meals take a long time to complete because of the format. The procession of small plates at the beginning of the meal, while often exquisite, will not sate the appetites of the very hungry. People who want straightforward (or very rich) food will likely be befuddled by the love shown to the place. And one is much more likely to get an eye-popping dessert at a place like Citronelle.

    Nevertheless, there is no place in DC I would rather have dinner than Komi.

  • I have really enjoyed the food that Monis prepares and believe it deserves its’ fine reputation.
    I disagree with anyone that thinks the portions are skimpy, quite to the contrary I have been full to discomfort after each of my visits.
    I also love the pacing of the meal and the decor (except for the seating in the front window – the light fan combination makes me dizzy).

  • ADORE Komi.

    If you are a “foodie” (sorry, I know that word grates on people) you will love this place. Amazing food, great service, great wine in a younger and more modern setting than you will find anywhere in DC.

    If you are not *that* into food, like my husband for example, you may find it overpriced. Even he thinks the service is some of the best in the city, though.

  • We got a gift certificate for christmas, so we’re planning to go soon-ish. Can anyone give me a time frame for how far out we need to book? (For a normal non-holiday)

  • Keep in mind that every status-seeking spendthrift in the metro area now knows that Komi is the “best” restaurant in DC (along with normal gourmet-types) so the fight for tables is going to be fierce for a bit. You might give it three weeks, more if you’re looking for a weekend.

    Nice gift.

  • I made reservations four weeks in advance and still couldn’t get the exact date that I wanted. If it’s a special occasion or a holiday book very far in advance.

  • Going there the end of this month for anniversary. Had to make the reservation 5 weeks out. Prepared for the expense. We both cook like banshees, and expect it to be fabulous. Will report back!

  • I agree with AJ. Komi serves the best meal I have ever had. Specifically, the dish that elevated it beyond all others was the mixed grill of game. The squad brought tears to my eyes.
    My dining companion and I ate ourselves silly and each had two glasses of wine, for about $200. CityZen will cost you close to twice that. Komi is not a place for old school service or to be coddled. It’s for flexible, lively foodies. It’s a bargain, frankly, for that food at that price.
    In terms of bang for your dining buck, it’s in a class above, sharing that rarified air with Ray’s the Steaks (and Hell Burger), and the Well Dressed Burrito.

  • I have been to both The Inn and to French Laundry and Komi stacks up very well to both. At that level choosing a winner is shades of grey and dependent on very personal taste, but Komi is in their league.

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