I was in town from southern California for a conference last week and had dinner at Minibar and Komi the next night.
Minibar/America Eats Tavern
Having experienced other mg leaning restaurants before, such as Schwa and Alinea, I was very interested in what Minibar had to offer and had obviously read many good things. Showing up over an hour early for my 830 seating, I sat at the bar of America Eats and decided to have a small snack because I had not eaten much all day and I'd heard that some people have finished Minibar hungry. After a very tasty crab cake and basket of biscuits with a delicious and addicting cranberry butter, I headed upstairs with the other guests. Taking the advice of other CHers and Yelp I skipped the wine flights and opted for two glasses over the course of the evening. With 24 courses being served I won't review all of them but the highlights included the Oyster Escabeche, Zucchini in Textures, Chicken Shawarma, and Charcoal Salmon Toro with Black Garlic. As much as I'd like to avoid sounding like Padma from TC, I found that many of the dishes were a little too salty. Additionally, while many of the techniques were interesting, sometimes I felt they were used just for the sake of the technique and didn't add a great deal of value or lead to a great dish. Nonetheless, the service was very good and the chefs (Justin and Charisse) were very informative. I'm glad I went, though I probably wouldn't go back (even if work is paying for part of it).
After nine hours of seminars I anxiously made my way up 17th towards Komi. With myriad accolades to its credit, and after being slightly disappointed with Minibar the night before, I was very excited about this meal. After entering the small restaurant I was immediately greeted and led to my table for one. Met by my main server next, she explained the format, stating that the restaurant would essentially be cooking for me tonight, and upon opting for the wine pairings we were off. Even before my first course arrived I noticed the Shins playing overhead and knew I was in for a pleasant experience, though I never thought it would be one of the best meals of my life. Again, with approximately 16 courses served I won't go through them all but suffice it to say, they all ranged from very good to involuntary-smile-inducing (i.e., mind blowing); that said, my favorites included: (i) the "gyro" with beef tongue, feta, and foie gras; (ii) the gnocchi, (iii) the sweetbread souvlaki, (vi) the "spanakopita, (v) the goat shoulder and fixings (somehow I managed to take this thing down by myself), and oh hell, I could really keep going because everything was that good. I only wish I could have taken pictures so I could more properly remember all of the dishes. The service was lovely, the music couldn't have been more up my alley (including the aforementioned Shins, Arcade Fire, Fanfarlo, Local Natives, and Head and the Heart), and the wine pairings were fantastic. Truly, this was the first time I have had such a positive reaction to wine pairings (typically, they taste good but I don't have the most discerning palate, so I can't tell whether they are worth it). All of this added up to solo dining perfection and, in case you hadn't figured it out, my night at Komi was head and shoulders above Minibar. I can't really explain the significant gap, perhaps my dinner at Komi was simply a confluence of superlative food, ambiance, and service and the Minibar experience just isn't for me. No matter what it was, I will most assuredly be making my way back to Komi as soon as I can get back to D.C.
405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004
1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036