Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Part Three - Komi

I got an email the week after our visit, "How was Komi? Was it worth all the hype?". This is a thought-provoking question, indeed, but I can feel comfortable in answering in the affirmative. For our third celebratory occasion, we headed to the 17th Street top-ranked spot for a lovely, quiet evening. The spare, dim room focused our view on a bright and bustling kitchen to watch the show. Chef Johnny Monis, pacing and observing, makes it clear that the focus here is on the food.

Because it was my husband's birthday (I'm going to start calling him C, it will just make things easier), we felt no need to hold back and went for the full scale degustatione menu, including, by our count, twenty courses. Now, don't go thinking we are all out pigs; most of these were one bite plates. Faster and faster these messatakkia came, starting with crudos of turbit and shrimp. A scallop duo produced one delicious bite with truffle and bacon, and another rather disgusting bite, perhaps it was the sea urchin. We then turned our attention to a smooth and satisfying oyster, then a lovely steamed bun topped with trout roe and creme fraiche. The salmon tartare was typical, but nevertheless mouthwatering. Next, we were served a fried caesar salad bite (that's the best I can do to describe it), which was to be downed at once, with no plate provided to pace. While tasty, the warm burst of pureed greens encased in batter was a textural adventure, and maybe not a good one. Things started slowing sometime around when we were served a bed of micro greens served with hummus and octopus. After a brief break, we enjoyed my favorite of the messatakkia, hangar steak tartare served with a peppery black truffle ice cream. The savory petit fours signified the conclusion to the mezzatakias, but without declaring time for dessert. Not a bad selection in the bunch, including dates stuffed with marscapone (perhaps not the most innovative item on the menu, but still tasty), foie gras creme puffs, red pepper jellies, cheddar animal crackers, and goat cheese marshmallow s'mores. Yum....
For our chef-selected pasta courses, we were treated with braised beef cheek agniolette for the Mr., and eggplant ravioli for myself. My "sample" bite of the agniolette was pleasing, and given the speed at which my husband devoured the plate, I'd say he enjoyed the ear-shaped pastas himself. Served with pine nuts and remarkably intact snails, the flavors of my ravioli were very complimentary. The main course, meat with a capital M, was a substantial portion of roasted suckling pig - this course for two tells a story. First, the pig is presented whole then taken back to the kitchen for "prep", which involves breaking down the roast meat, removing the fat, and separating the crispy skin a la Peking Duck. This dish is served with pita and sauces and toppings including cabbage, oregano sea salt, eggplant puree, habanero sauce, and tsatziki. After two delicious "sandwiches" I had to throw in the towel, but C was not to be deterred. He made sure there was not a scrap of pork remaining on that plate.

As the evening began to decrescendo (mind you, about 2 hours in at this point), we turned our attention to the cheese course. When placing the reservation, we were asked about any dietary restrictions and I had made mention of the fact that C does not care for cheese. Not only did our servers discuss the various courses with us to make sure that the cheese content of each was acceptable, C's cheese course was thoughtfully replaced with texturized pineapple and vanilla coconut broth. Extra credit. On the other side of the table, I happily dove into my creamy Italian goat and sheep's milk selection served with brioche and honey. Good stuff. Finally, blissfully, dessert. First, we were served palate cleanser of mango puree, then a key lime aromatic with foam and crispies, and to conclude greek donuts to end all donuts. Ice cream, ganache, blood orange sauce, and szechaun caramel satisfyingly shared the plate with the sweet morsels of fried dough. What a perfection conclusion.

As C puts it, at Komi, "they don't mess around" - whether enough to unseed CityZen from the top spot of this competition, stay tuned.

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