2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013
Komi requires its audience to trust it. There's no menu to choose from and your waiter doesn't offer much more of a forecast than this: The meal will segue from light to heavy, from fish to meat. "Ready?" he asks.
I'm always open to eating whatever Johnny Monis wants me to eat, be it a single scallop capped with a coin of persimmon, great raw fish from Tokyo, rabbit pate on sourdough toast or a single (and perfect) raviolo stuffed with earthy blood sausage. What links the many courses at this modern Greek restaurant is a reverence for great ingredients and superb taste.
Monis was honored for as much with the Mid-Atlantic Best Chef award from the James Beard Foundation this year. His extraordinary food is staged in a Spartan yellow room by servers who weave warmth with wit. A bottle of Arneis comes with a quip. "Little rascal," a server translates the Italian into English. When the accompaniments to a main course of crisp baby goat -- pickled peppers, puffy pita, thick yogurt -- run low, the waiter asks if we want "reinforcements."
Komi isn't inexpensive. But neither is a first-class ticket to Greece.
2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
Luxury dining isn't dead, much of it is just different than what it used to be. Take Komi, the temple of modern Greek cooking presided over by Washington's most guarded chef, Johnny Monis. Flowers are absent from the table, and there's no longer bread to launch the meal. Diners may be dressed as if for casual Friday at the office. So what makes some of us willing to shell out $500 a couple for several hours? Intelligent service driven by genuine passion helps. The waiters, playful but never silly, describe the dishes -- a tiny trio of fish, a many-layered beef tongue gyro, semolina custard in phyllo -- as if they had created them themselves. Control freaks will have a hard time here, since there's no written menu and the many courses are announced only as they are delivered (each plate landing simultaneously). But almost every bite tastes like one of the best you've ever had ... until you get the next celestial dish and the bar is raised anew. A puff of warm brioche capped with caviar is followed by a golden cube of liquid spanakopita, which might segue to melt-in-the-mouth gnocchi enriched with chive butter. And that's just a snapshot of the wine-fueled evening. Staged with a blizzard of accents, the entree might include extraordinary baby goat or veal chop. (“If you don't eat the bones, I'm going to cry," a waiter jests. I think.) The feast's finale is another Monis signature: house-made lollipops.