And Then There is Komi

The day after our fabulous meal at Per Se we had dinner reservations, made by our neighbors, to go Komi, considered by Washingtonian magazine to be DC’s best restaurant and one of our favorites. Most recently we were there for Don’s birthday in January. The question was, would it suffer in comparison with such a recent visit to Per Se? Komi also does a fixed priced tasting menu, starting with a seemingly endless procession of tasty morsels, many of which are raw fish, each meticulously topped with a savory garnish. The mezzethakia, as they call it, is followed by a pasta dish, a shared entrée – generally roasted goat, suckling pig or fish for vegetarians -, sweet treats and desert.

While both restaurants are of the high-end special occasion variety, they really can’t be easily compared. Per Se is so over-the-top, focusing on extraordinary ingredients, complicated flavor profiles and impeccable friendly service that few restaurants in the world could compare. Komi, on the other hand, in a small simply-decorated townhouse off of Dupont Circle, has a homier comfortable atmosphere. The quality of the ingredients is excellent but most of the preparations are simpler in execution, aiming for simple perfection rather than the complex melding of flavors found at Per Se.

The entrées at Komi are a good example. The suckling pig was first presented as a beautifully roasted leg on a platter which was then taken back to the kitchen and returned to the table as a pile of juicy morsels and crispy skin served with an assortment of Mediterranean condiments and flat bread. The fish, similarly was first presented fresh from the oven in a mound of salt and returned to the tabled as perfectly cooked moist fillets also accompanied by condiments and flat bread.

So did Komi stand up? In a word, yes. Success is accomplishing your own vision, not mirroring the other guy. Eating at the two restaurants back to back made me appreciate that much more the complexity of ingredients at Per Se and the simplicity at Komi. Both are winning concepts.