Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dinner at Komi

Last weekend, Mark and I celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Komi. I don't know if I mentioned this in my account of our January meal at Komi, but the waitstaff and other front-of-house people there really are fantastic. Johnny Monis' food may be amazing, but that's not the only special thing going on at Komi. You know how at a lot of restaurants of this type, the unspoken message is "you don't deserve to eat here and you can't understand what artistes we are; be grateful we're serving you at all"? Well, at Komi we were actually greeted warmly at the door. The attitude of the servers here is more like, "We love food, and we know you probably do too, or you wouldn't be here." They are true professionals. We asked our server lots of questions, and he always had well-informed answers. We even chatted briefly about The Omnivore's Dilemma (when I asked where they get their quail eggs from).

Anyway, the tasting menu begins with the mezzethakia, a flight of eight or so amuse-bouche-sized treats. You don't order them off a menu -- it's a series of surprises, which makes it my favorite part of the meal. We started with a couple of house-cured olives, and they were so much cleaner-tasting than most. The brine wasn't especially salty or vinegary, so the taste was like a really good, fruity olive oil --an apt flavor with which to begin a Mediterranean-influenced meal. Next came wedges of radish topped with a bit of butter and salmon roe, the salty component in a riff on the French radishes-with-butter-and-salt thing. (Mark's came with thin shavings of garlic scape instead.) Oh, and with these first couple of mezze, we were served a Greek sparkling wine. Next came the mascarpone-stuffed date I've been craving since January. Still heavenly.

At about this point we were poured a really good Spanish albarino (sorry, I don't know how to add the tilde character in Blogger), along with two small grilled Padron peppers and a shot-glass-sized serving of gazpacho. I *think* our server told us there was roasted beet in there. Whatever it was, I heartily approve. After that was some octopus, a thin slice of avocado, and a quail egg atop black lentils. Next came a corn fritter with anchovy aioli (Mark's had saffron aioli, and I think his was better, but then I do love saffron). Then a little pita sandwich with oxtail and tzatziki (I remember this one from last time, only this time it also had beet in it). And finally, a bit of watermelon topped with whipped feta, the only mezze I wasn't crazy about. I just don't know about watermelon and cheese. There were a couple other wines during the mezze course; Mark took surreptitious notes, but now that I've waited so long to do this post, these notes are cryptic. I know we had wines from Santorini (who knew there was any part of Santorini used for anything but tourism?) and the Piedmont region of Italy because the notes tell me so. Oops.

Next, the pasta course. Mark had something with gorgonzola (and with it, a merlot/grenache blend); I had fava bean agnolotti with chorizo and garlic scapes and a curry emulsion (served with a gewurztraminer). It was good, but I thought the chorizo overwhelmed the delicate favas just a little.

My entree was roasted squab with asparagus, morel mushrooms, morcilla sausage and trotters, served with a Spanish rioja. When ordering, I inquired as to what trotters were. The short answer? Pig's knuckles. The magic of Komi is that I didn't care. They were delicious (they were part of a fritter). And now I'm cursing these notes, because all Mark wrote down about his entree was this: "Vegetables." And he's gone to bed now, so I can't inquire. (Perhaps tomorrow he'll weigh in in the comments section and share more details.)

Next we were given a little taste of olive oil gelato: so simple, so unexpected. If you've ever had really good olive oil, you understand what a great flavor that is. (And now we've come full circle from the olives we started the meal with!) This was a prelude to dessert: coconut panna cotta for Mark, a cornmeal crepe with mascarpone for me.

And they still bring out lollipops with the check: this time, lime and juniper flavored -- "like a gin & tonic," our server said. And indeed, it did taste like a G&T: a whimsical end to another amazing meal from Monis & Co.

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Blogger lis said...

It all sounds delicious. I've never seen a restaurant with garlic scapes on its menu, so that's pretty cool.

I heard Ruth Reichl on TON yesterday and she was saying that a person can influence how she is served at a restaurant, but I don't want to have to act a certain way. I think restaurant staff should just be nice. Glad to hear that Komi's staff is not snooty.

9:49 AM  
Blogger lis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Vegetables = pickled artichoke hearts + carrot salad with basil + mushrooms with green beans + quinoa + asparagus

5:57 PM  

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