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Komi, 17th & P Streets


therese
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Agreed on most of this report, the chicken I had was tough, somewhat bland with an overly sweet sauce on the side. Only one visit, and it is early, but if this is worth getting excited about then out standards in DC are abysmally low.

Oh, the wine, Spanish, Grenache blend (w/ syrah, carinange and others) pretty unexciting and at $28, seemed a tad overpriced.

Mazman

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Mazman, you've only posted a few times so I don't have a feel yet for your depth and breadth of dining here versus elsewhere and I don't discount your poor experience last night in any way. I don't know what kinds of places in DC get you excited--you posted once about Ceiba--so besides trendy or new--do you also go to established places high, middle and low? Do you live here or do drop in and dine from Philly like Sara? Do you dine out often enough to return to places for a second or third impression? I feel I have better handle on your awareness and experiences, Sara, because you've posted more often--but please, don't you think it is implicit in a thread like this that you take your chances with a new place that's only been open, what--2 or 3 weeks? Young chef, young staff, service bound to be inconsistent?

I think it's unfair and unwise to draw conclusions--in DC or in Philly--based on one good experience in a brand new restaurant as it is to stretch a poor experience in a just-opened restaurant into some referendum on 1) that restaurant and 2) low standards in DC or 3) try to draw a comparison to how long this place would stay open in Philly. No one is placing this on some altar of top DC restaurants at this point--it's good and promising for the neighborhood it is in, but it is very new with a 24 year old chef spreading his wings for the first time. You guys had a bad experience, perhaps on the first night the chef decided to take off in months. A few issues you noted had already been noted in this thread--salt, wine, lax pacing of dishes. If he's smart, the chef is reading this, he's taking your words to heart and trying to make the necessary changes--as any new chef-owner would if he were smart. If not, if your experience turns out to be the norm rather than mine, or Wabeck's, or others on this thread, I'm sure it won't last here, either!

And Sara, a caution about Nectar. We're lucky there's one Nectar and we're all still flush and excited we have one Nectar on the scene, but Nectar is more mature, aims higher and operates at a higher price point and sophistication. In Philly there's one Django and a whole host of other decent chef-driven/mid-priced/aiming-higher restaurants in its class who aren't as special, aren't as over-achieving like Django. And that's ok--for both of us--as long as we keep things in perspective and don't try to overstate the situation. Hoping for another Django or Nectar, even subconsciously, isn't fair to those other restaurants. You'd agree there needs to be room to appreciate all sorts of restaurants in second-tier food towns on an upward arc--as both DC and Philly are--right?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I feel I have better handle on your awareness and experiences, Sara, because you've posted more often--but please, don't you think it is implicit in a thread like this that you take your chances with a new place that's only been open, what--2 or 3 weeks? Young chef, young staff, service bound to be inconsistent?

And Sara, a caution about Nectar. Hoping for another Django or Nectar, even subconsciously, isn't fair to those other restaurants. You'd agree there needs to be room to appreciate all sorts of restaurants in second-tier food towns on an upward arc--as both DC and Philly are--right?

Steve,

Ok, let me take a stab at a response. First, as you've acknowledged, I post more often than Mazman, but let me assure you (as I'm sure he will too), Mazman has eaten at a million different places since moving to DC a few years ago. As for myself, I grew up here, went to college here, and only moved to Philly 5 years ago. I know the broad range of restaurants in DC, VA, and some in MD (and my distribution is probably skewed a bit to the <$20/entree end). My culinary experiences have certainly widenened a great deal over the past 5 years, as I've traveled more extensively, but I must admit that I have always been underwhelmed by DC's restaurant scene, with (and this is completely honest) the exception of Jaleo. I was amazed at the positive reviews of places like DC Coast, Galileo (restaurant, not Laboratorio), Kinkeads, Queen Bee, etc that emerged over the years I lived here. None of these places deserved the accolades they got/get, IMHO, and yet the positive buzz continues...

I do agree on giving a new restaurant the chance to grow and develop before dismissing it entirely. But what surprised me was the consistently positive remarks on this board (ok, with the exceptions of the salt, service) and then my markedly different experience--even with the same dishes. Sure, maybe the chef had the night off--but we don't know that for sure, do we? I can also tell you that I had a brief conversation w/ several servers and one sous chef before my guests arrived, and they had no awareness of Egullet, tho maybe the chef does...

As far as Django, Nectar, and setting perhaps too high standards in cities...well, I actually think it serves a purpose. Django is perhaps not the best in Philly anymore at what it's doing--in part, I think, because it presented a challenge, and hope, to other chefs, and they're meeting that challenge (Rx keeps getting better and better, and the new Melograno is quite good, as is Chloe). I think it's important to aim high, at any pricepoint. And I can't help but compare other restaurants to Nectar, since that's my standard for DC restaurants right now--if I'm going to spend my money, I want it to be that good (maybe that's unreasonable, but it's why last time I was in DC I only ate out at Minibar and Nectar). And I wouldn't say Komi was THAT much cheaper, really. Sure, I'll give them time, and if the positive reviews continue, then Mazman can go back and report to me, and maybe it'll be worth one of my 2-3 nights in DC every 2-3 months to go back in!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Steve, thanks for replying and pushing the conversation forward. A few details: live in DC most of the time, NY rest of the time and eat out a lot in these and other cities. Fair to say that I have been to most of the "middle-to high end" places in the area--alas no Citronelle or Maestro--but many of the group that are a notch below in price point and ambitions. In that group among my faves include Cashion's, Jaleo, Grapeseed, El Chalan and probably others. Slightly higher end places I love include Nectar and Obelisk (when its on). Overall, I am generally disappointed in the DC dining scene, especially at the middle-tier, compared to NY, SF and even smaller cities like Portland, OR. But I agree with the geenal assessment of a "second-tier food town on an upward arc."

Now to the particulars: my expectation from a new place is that I want to go back, right now Komi fails this test. Yes its new, and yes I can forgive service lapses and others for this, but I'd still hesitate in going back on my own dime anytime in the near future. True, small sample size, but dining out is not research, the bar to get me back in is, and should be I think, high. Perhaps my expectations for neighborhood restaurants is skewed by other places I live and travel to, but there is nothing wrong with setting high standards--DC needs more diners (like the folks posting on e-gullet) willing to set and enforce these. The more postings that rave, or at least cheer, the doings at Komi, the more likely I'll go back...

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As the third of the triumverate of mazman and sara to dine at Komi on Monday evening, I thought I'd offer a few words on this thread...

First of all, let me preface my remarks by agreeing with Steve who said that one visit to a restaurant should not a complete assessment make. Indeed. Shit happens, sometimes for the worse. It's for this reason that most food critics do not base their reviews on one visit alone. However, they would be dishonest to not factor a bad experience into their overall assessment. That said, I was glad to see sara's posting which I felt sufficiently balanced the largely positive reviews that preceded it. Our experience on Monday evening did not resemble the previous postings.

Food notes: Personally, I found the cauliflower/apple puree -- offered to all diners, apparently? -- to be refreshing and delicious. The bread basket was also generously filled and of good quality, including a tasty spread. I had the veal entree, which was very lean, but lacked flavor. I tasted the scallop appetizer. Perhaps I'm more of a New England seafood traditionalist, but the dish didn't float my boat, so to speak. It really lacked a personality for my taste buds, just felt like I was eating something cold and raw (which I often love to do in seafood & sushi restaurants!).

The service, as previously mentioned, is a problem. It was very slow on Monday evening, even when the restaurant was hardly filled at the start. Later on, it took more than 10 minutes to receive our check after requesting it and telling the waiter that we were running late. The restaurant did, however, do a good job in dealing with a dirty situation -- namely, a wine glass covered in dust and containing a hair. After having my glass filled from the bottle of red we ordered, I discovered 2/3rds of the rim to be layered in dust, then upon further inspection found a hair to be floating inside it. They poured me a fresh glass of wine from another bottle.

Komi definitely needs to do something about the track lighting along the left-hand wall (left side as you enter). It was blinking bright & dark all evening and gave the feeling that sparks could fly at any moment. Plus, the spartan decor struck me as a bit drab. A few wall hangings wouldn't hurt to make it a bit more homey.

Echoing mazman, I'm willing to give Komi a second chance sometime ... but honestly I'm more likely to visit a tried-and-true, moderately-priced DC neighborhood establishment like Cashion's, Johnny's Half Shell, or Ardeo/Bardeo before I return to Komi.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Not quite. I had dinner there tonight and at Nectar on Saturday, both for the first time. I think it's trying to be a more casual, neighborhood version of Nectar on some levels. The plating/presentation is not at the Nectar level, nor are the prices, and nor is the cooking. But it's still really good food.

I had the Sunnyside Farms hanger steak ($19) and a glass of Greek grenache-blend wine for my dinner. I enjoyed the cauliflower-apple soup as an amuse. The bread basket came with a sundried tomato-olive butter in a cute little iron crock, and I appreciated that the focaccia was warm. My entree was an appealing assortment of fall flavor: braised endive, a mix of haricots verts and soft pan-roasted sweet potato cubes, little dots of Chinese mustard sauce and sweet-tart pomegranate reduction across the plate. Some random hunks of crisply fried bacon rested on top of the plate; I eventually broke them down into manageable bits with my knife and fork and ate them with the beans and sweet potatoes. (They mystified me, honestly. I love bacon as much as the next girl, but I really don't like having two big hunks of it randomly perched on my plate.) The steak itself wasn't nearly as flavorful as the hanger steak I ate at Nectar on Saturday (I must be in a steak mood lately) but it was a respectable piece of beef nonetheless, and generously sized at the price to boot.

When I arrived at 6:15p there were only two other tables occupied, but four more tables filled while I was eating. Two parties were seated near me and both of them consulted with the front-end manager about wines by the glass. I overheard both parties inquiring about chardonnays and cabernets, and the manager responding with an explanatory "We don't have any chardonnays, cabernets or merlots on our wine list." An interesting decision; I was sorry I didn't have a chance to inquire as to why the wine list is set up in its current form.

A pomegranate lollipop was presented with my check, which I enjoyed as I drove home from dinner. Don't chew on it unless you want to loosen your dental work ( :unsure: ), but it does have a great tartlike flavor.

I wish this place had been around when I lived in the neighborhood. I hope to God it succeeds, and even raises the bar for what else restaurants nearby serve. I'll be back, probably for lunch sometime soon.

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Just lunched there with a friend. The wine list has already changed (!) and we had a nice time chatting with Evan the front-end guy about it. He's very proud of this little list and sold us both on glasses of wine to go with our meals. Like a dork, I failed to write down what I drank...it was some kind of dry muscat. It had that typical sweet-floral muscat aroma, but the taste was more bracing than expected...then the aftertaste was fruity. Quite a nice sensation in the mouth.

My friend ordered the house salad and a pizza, while I went with the cod sandwich and a side order of endive with proscuitto. The salad looked like an in-house mix rather than the usual stuff in a bag (this perception could be because the salad included mache, which doesn't tend to hold up well in a bagged environment) with wafer-thin onions, some green beans and a light, tangy dressing. When the salad came out I was given a little espresso glass of some kind of apple-curry soup, "to keep me company" while my friend ate. Nice touch.

The bread basket this time included housemade brioche brushed with butter, which definitely did not suck. And then the entrees came. That same housemade brioche, toasted, smeared with remoulade spiked with plenty of cornichons, and a tasty fried piece of cod arrived open-faced. The sandwich was garnished with organic frisee tossed in a lemony vinaigrette and came with some of the best chips ever, made from fingerling potatoes and showered prettily with dill. Mmmmmm. The endive with proscuitto included more haricots verts than endive...I like both vegetables but didn't remember seeing the haricots verts listed in the menu description so I was surprised to see so many of them. The endive was slightly caramelized and cut down into small enough pieces that I didn't have to use my knife to eat them.

My friend's pizza had broccoli raab, house-cured anchovies (it's a lemon-olive oil cure according to Evan), and some grape tomatoes on it. I thought the crust was simply okay, but the anchovy was fantastic. These pizzas might make a good starter to share at dinnertime or a quick meal with a glass of wine but I'm not yet convinced they're worth a detour. To be fair, I only had two bites and didn't get a chance to sample the outer crust where you can really taste the dough.

Cinnamon lollipops came with the check. We left stuffed and satisfied. :cool:

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Is Komi trying to be another Nectar?

Mark,

What did you write at nearly 4:00 a.m. on November 30 and then edit later that day around lunch time?

Hmmm.

I'm starting to wonder about all the edited posts around here? There should be a no-posting-after-the-bar closes rule... :shock:

(...and for a someone who studied English, my spelling is despicable :wacko: )

Edited by meaghanfitzgerald (log)

...

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  • 4 weeks later...

"None of this would be all that noteworthy if it were taking place in Cleveland Park, Georgetown or Penn Quarter, or if the food were prepared by a name chef like Todd Gray, Ann Cashion or Jose Andres. But here we are on a stretch of mostly undelicious restaurants near Dupont Circle, enjoying dishes cooked by a chef, Johnny Monis, who until three years ago wasn't *legally able to drink alcohol. "

(Pasted from Sietsema's review )

That's funny! Everyone Johnny and I are the same age! :cool:

*Legal, smeagal!

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Well, I certainly didn't hear any "early 80s dance hits" on my visit to Komi (that would've CERTAINLY overriden my negative food experience. :biggrin: ).

I think it's interesting that the standards applied to a restaurant vary by the street they are on in DC. To my knowledge, we don't usually apply such caveats here in Philly, other than cutting a little slack to a place right next to your house (convenience can surely mediate the effect of a so-so meal on the overall experience).

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Is Komi trying to be another Nectar?

Mark,

What did you write at nearly 4:00 a.m. on November 30 and then edit later that day around lunch time?

Hey that was in the review too. Mark, your intellectual property is at stake...and what was in that editorial you wrote at nearly 4 a.m.!

...

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Only a block from my work, maybe I can get in soon.  Anyone know if I can bring wine and if so what they charged for corkage?

do do that, meany.

(he he! do do!)

I'll be nicey, meany. I hear it's $15.

Edited by morela (log)

...

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80's music!...not cool under any situation...that said..I do hope this place does well or at least gets people thinking about decent food in the Dupont area...there are a few decent places around and a whole lot more shitty places too...and don't forget that opening a restaurant is actually easier than keeping it consistent on food and service..thats where komi has to step up to break outta the pack

listen to Black Sabbath..often

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80's music!...not cool under any situation...

Oh My! Say whaaa??? :cool:

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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thanks to my parents I was subjected to the pop music of the 80's during that all important high school period...thus my disdain for the "genre"...bottom line..any self respecting restaurant shouldn't play crappy pop music ...from any era...especially the 80's...

listen to Black Sabbath..often

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