Friday, May 07, 2010

Obama Date Night At Komi Restaurant

For the first solo dinner outing in months, an eatery dubbed worthy of "gastronomic thrill seekers"
Was it an early Mother's Day treat? Or a little bit of foodie "support" for Greece and its ongoing debt crisis? No telling for certain, but President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Washington, DC's Komi restaurant, which specializes in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, shortly after 7:00 PM on Friday evening.

Activity in the Dupont Circle neighborhood where the restaurant is located immediately ground to a halt, but had a festive block-party atmosphere as locals waited for the President and First Lady to emerge from their dinner. (Above: The First Couple exiting the restaurant)

The first Eaters did just that two hours later, and as they exited the restaurant, fellow diners applauded, according to the pool report, as did the crowd gathered outside. The First Couple waved, and Mrs. Obama carried a wrapped bouquet of flowers, indicating it was a Mother's Day celebration. Celebrating early is de rigueur Obama: Friday afternoon, Mrs. Obama hosted an early Mother's Day Tea at the White House. And Greek Independence Day was celebrated almost two weeks early at the White House, too.

Friday Night Date Night is an Obama tradition left over from pre-White House days, and the visit to Komi is the First Couple's first solo dinner outing since October, when they celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary at DC's Blue Duck Tavern (Valentine's Day was celebrated at Camp David this year). (Above: Mrs. Obama and her bouquet, followed by Mr. Obama)

The chef and the menu...
Komi chef/owner Johnny Monis, 30, was just a nominee for the third straight year as one of the James Beard Foundation's 2010 Rising Star Chefs, and Food & Wine magazine named him to its list of best new chefs in 2007 (Monis, at left). He opened Komi at age 24, and has an avid local following. Washingtonian magazine has chosen Komi as the city's #1 Very Best restaurant for the last two years, and notes it as a destination for "gastronomic thrill seekers," thanks to specialties like Roasted Goat, Suckling Pig, Spaghetti with Sea Urchin, and Egg Yolk Raviolo with Crab & Chiles. The menu is fixed-price, at $125 per person. Check it out here. Decor in the restaurant is described as stylish and spare.

Neighborhood excitement as the First Couple visits...
Despite the fact that the President and First Lady have lived among their fellow Washingtonians for sixteen months, the Dupont Circle neighborhood was excited, as indicated by the round of exit applause.

@andrewmjones tweeted: Funny how Obama visiting your hood brings out a sense of community. It's like a block party out here.

The crowd was estimated at about 20o; word spread via Twitter, etc., that POTUS and FLOTUS were in the neighborhood. @chrisgeidner posted excellent photos of the motorcade as the crowd awaited the First Couple to emerge, and he also tweeted some food/politics commentary: Obama eating dinner on 17th Street, the heart of DC's gayborhood, as #DADT repeal remains in question. Geidner covers LBGT issues for DC's Metro Weekly.

The First Couple's last hometown dinner outing was on January 16, to Restaurant Nora, for a "surprise" birthday dinner for Mrs. Obama. But it included a pack of Mrs. Obama's friends, so it was not officially a "Date Night." Komi, and Monis, will now enjoy even more business, as do all restaurants that get an Obama visit.

As a final note, the motorcade this evening was all SUV's--no Beast. Above: A twilight dinner-in-progress motorcade shot, tweeted by Geidner.

Info: Komi
is at 1509 17th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20036-6262. Phone: (202) 332-9200.

*Obama photos by Getty; Monis photo by Food & Wine; motorcade photo by Chris Geidner.