Restaurants & Bars 12

Dinner at Komi

zora | Jun 23, 2004 12:21 AM

I've been wanting to try Komi since Sietsema's revue came out earlier this year. We went tonight for a belated celebration of our anniversary.

There were many intriguing options on the menu, especially for first courses, and it was a challenge to decide. The amuse was a demitasse of chilled celery-buttermilk soup. Hub doesn't like buttermilk, so we pretended it was yogurt--it reminded him of raita. Dau doesn't like celery, but drank it anyway. I thought it was fine, very refreshing. The basket of bread-crackers with apricot-ginger chutney got devoured, and we waited, and waited for our first course. (The place was less than half full when we sat down at 7:15, and two-thirds full by the time we left).

Dau had Mission fig, almonds and Spanish goat cheese with mache and proclaimed it just delicious. Hub had chicken liver pate with pistachios, a generous slab which came with thin pumpernickel, mustard sauce and a bowl of sour cornichons and sweet-sour pickled baby carrots, thin slices of uncooked turnip and golden beet. The pate was fresh-tasting and creamy, and the pickles offered a piquant crunch as accompaniment. I had smoked corn soup with arugula and apple-smoked bacon. It didn't quite hang together--the biggest food disappointment of the evening. A cold puree of barely cooked sweet corn with cream, the "smoked" flavor came primarily from the whole slice of bacon submerged in the soup. There was a pile of large, whole leaves of arugula in the center, with a bit of fluffy parmesan on them. The arugula overwhelmed everything. This dish couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a soup or a salad, and it didn't work as either. Hub shared his pate with me, and I got a taste of dau's goat cheese, but she was unwilling to part with any of the fig or mache.

Then we waited, and waited. The solicitous wait staff poured iced tap water and brought more bread. But it was more than thirty minutes after we finished our firsts that our mains were served.

Dau had diver scallops, which were very fresh and delicious, nicely plated in a single row over a bed of quinoa, on a narrow, rectangular plate. Hub had hanger steak, served with a boneless short rib, haricot verts and fingerling potatoes. There were small dabs of fiery mustard and horseradish sauce and a little pile of herbed salt and pepper on the edge of the plate. Perfectly cooked, tender and tasty beef-- a very satisfying, manly dish. I had pork tenderloin, blackened on the outside and "medium"--quite pink on the inside. It was sliced and served with crisped squares of smoked pork belly, brussels sprouts, turnips and a sauce made of fresh sweet cherries. The brussels sprouts were a tad undercooked, the turnips a bit mushy, but the tender meat, smoky crisped fat of the pork belly and the cherry sauce were superb together.
We had two different red wines from the by-the-glass menu. I had a West Coast pinot noir that was pleasant but forgettable, and hub had a Spanish cab franc (?) that the waitress said was the most full-bodied red on the menu. It had absolutely no nose, and muted fruit that only opened up a little bit with air. We're used to drinking better wine at home, so that was a bit disappointing. Nice wine glasses, though.

For dessert, dau got the orange-cardamom donuts with Mexican hot chocolate--the donuts were warm, but they weren't falling-apart tender like just-made donuts are. Truth be told--the texture seemed a bit stale to me. The chocolate sauce was tasted and then ignored. Hub and I shared a nectarine-blueberry "cobbler" with cinnamon ice cream. It actually was a crumble, with a crunchy crumb topping--and really good. Fresh, warm fruit with lots of flavor, the smooth cold cream and the crunch of the generous layer of topping was superb together. Excellent French press coffee with refills. Total tab was $128. Quite reasonable, I thought, for the meal we three ate. The service was friendly and attentive, but the kitchen was too slow. We were cranky in the middle there, waiting for our main courses. And stiff from sitting so long, by the end of the meal. The housemade lollipops with the check were a cute idea, but pomegranate lollipops don't taste like anything other than sweet.

A bit of a walk on 17th Street revived us--we walked past a basement bar where a lively evening of drag bingo was just getting underway. Ah, life in the big city!

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