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I read Tim Carman’s columns and blog entries frequently. Generally speaking, I find his work interesting and insightful, and I have him to thank for introducing me to several restaurants and bits of foodie-related news that I would not otherwise have found out about.
But I’m writing to take issue with his criticism of Komi’s tasting menu (Young & Hungry, “One Toque Over the Line,” 8/31). Carman gives the impression that the restaurant bills the single brined olive that is served as part of the mezzethakia as a course in and of itself. In truth, the olive is just one of a series of small bites that are presented as an extended appetizer/sampler course. He even acknowledges that in the section, pointing out two of the other tastes that are served as part of the same course. His other examples, the salumi at Bebo and the amberjack at Hook were valid—though one might argue that $3 for one or $8 for three of the crudo at Hook is not out of line with the cost of sashimi and nigiri sushi at even the most average sushi restaurant. But either Carman or his editor saw fit to highlight Komi’s olive, presumably to present it as a ridiculous extreme. In truth, the single olive is not available by itself, and it doesn’t get an individual line on the menu or an individual price point.
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I know the column is called “Young & Hungry,” so it makes sense to criticize tasting menus for high-priced meals that don’t exactly fill you up, but I think tasting menus and other high-end dining experiences don’t necessarily need to leave a diner feeling “full.” The use of quality ingredients and inventive techniques elevates the price and, hopefully, the impact of the meal on the diner. For some of us, that series of wonderful little tastes is worth much more than a heaping plate of run-of-the-mill appetizers. I leave Komi far more impressed and satisfied with the experience than when I leave many cheaper restaurants, despite paying more and eating less food over a longer period of time.
At the end of the day, I think Carman’s larger point about the D.C. food scene being judged (or hyped) exclusively on its high-end offerings is valid and needs to be said more frequently—our ethnic and mom-and-pop offerings really do make for a much richer landscape than the one presented by our celebrity chefs. Thanks for trying to make that point and for continuing to guide people toward those unique opportunities around the city.
As someone who has really enjoyed dining at Komi, I must take exception at Tim Carman’s inclusion of Komi in his article. I last ate at Komi in March, when I took a co-worker out for her birthday. Either Komi has completely changed since then, or we ate at completely different restaurants. Olives were included in the mezzethakia course—not a single course, per se, but part of the first course, which consisted of seven or eight small plates (I lost count) of generally fantastic food (mmm, oxtail gyro). And we received a bowl of olives, not that I really cared, as I generally don’t eat olives. And unlike Carman’s friend, my dining companion and I left feeling quite full. Did she skip a course? No dessert? No wine?
Overall, it is the best dining experience I have ever had—great food, wine, service.
I do agree with your assessment of fancy junk food. Amen!
On account of an error by Editor Erik Wemple, last week’s District Line (“Median Man”) mistakenly reported that “Billi” received a visit from various government officials last Tuesday. The visit occurred on Wednesday.