What We Are Talking About When We Talk About Best

I’ve been hearing about Komi ever since moving to D.C. and always in a hushed voice with eyes widening for emphasis: This is the Best meal in town. I was skeptical after I saw the dining room, which I found underwhelming. But after a year of eating Johnny Monis’ inspired Thai food at Little Serow, I was ready to take the plunge into one of the most expensive tasting menus in town. Monis has earned my trust.

Eating at Little Serow is like riding the chairlift up a steep, glorious mountain, full of anticipation and thrill, and then flying down the powdered slope in a perfect run–exhilarating, cold and sweaty, mouth-watering, tear-inducing. And if you accept that analogy, allow me one more: Eating at Komi is like drinking a hot toddy later, popping a vicodin, and falling asleep in the hot tub.

Unfortunately, that dowdy dining room became my favorite part of the whole experience. The dozen or so dishes were, frankly, boring. The puff with lemon and caviar couldn’t top the latkes, creme fraiche, and caviar I’d had for breakfast. The fried-with-liquid-center spanakopita rivals the Trader Joe’s variety. The raw salmon in fish broth was dullsville–without brightness. The charred octopus and fennel had good flavor, but the tentacles were tough. Someone must have forgotten the promised truffle with the scallops, sea urchin, and crispy kale, because I couldn’t detect it. The pastas were also snooze-y–gnocchi with olive oil and Parmesan, pappardelle¬†with lamb ragu. I enjoyed the famed roast goat shoulder with gyro fixin’s–”very Komi” we were told by our server–except much of it, like every single dish through to the lollypops at the end, was so salty my taste buds ached from it. I didn’t taste much else.

Maybe all this would have been easier to take if the servers didn’t practically call out “Ta Da!” as they set down each plate. Several times I thought they were going to scoop up the bites before I did, they were brimming with so much excitement. And, sadly, I may not have minded much if they did.

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