100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 1 Komi

Oyster leaves accent striped horse mackerel. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

How does a restaurant snag the top ranking in our annual survey of the area’s dining scene? Let us count the ways.

The room, simple but serene, establishes the tone—you don’t come here to be dazzled by decor. Or to do business. The reason you book a table at Komi is to escape the noise and hustle of the outside world, settling in for the sort of soul-warming experience that’s all too rare in the world of fine dining.

The staff is deeply knowledgeable—doting but sincere, and with an enthusiasm for the restaurant that transcends the job—and the parade of dishes is not at all the egotistical exercise you might expect from a place that has dispensed with menus. You feel the earnestness and enthusiasm of chef Johnny Monis in every exquisitely crafted bite.

Monis has experimented a good bit with his set list over the past year, further nudging Komi from its roots as a Greek restaurant. It’s more Mediterranean these days, with an increasingly global reach that reflects the chef’s continuing and exciting evolution. Some standards remain, including the small miracle of a roasted date stuffed with mascarpone, salted and coated in olive oil: No single bite in all of Washington excites us more.

For all his freewheeling play throughout, it tells you a lot that the final course is served family style and revels in its hearty abundance. Our most recent meal concluded with a gorgeous, crisp-skinned lamb neck; on the side, pita and condiments. Gyros, basically—though there’s nothing basic about it. You’re going to break bread, quite literally, you’re going to eat with your hands, you’re going to dig in and not “dine.”

Don’t miss:

  • Bay scallops with Meyer lemon
  • Pasta rounds with squash, black truffle, and lamb tongue
  • Cured foie gras with honey
  • Gnocchi with milk-roasted rabbit
  • Mackerel jaw with za’atar
  • Sweetbreads with gribiche
  • Roasted goat or suckling pig with pita and condiments
  • Greek doughnuts with sour cherries and gelato made from Brillat-Savarin.

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