Food & Drink

Restaurant Review: Komali

Once vibrant, the Cole Avenue Mexican spot now feels tame.

I remember when Komali was fresh and exciting, its decor sleek and contemporary, its modern Mexican menu vibrant. The goat’s-milk cajeta gilding crêpes came from a local dairy. Brunch was splashy and fun. Now, five years later, with a recent change in ownership and even as regional Mexican cuisine has soared, Komali is only feeling more safe, stodgy, and tame. Chile en nogada was lovely, the dark green chile filled with its complex picadillo of meat, nuts, and dried fruits, topped with a blanket of cinnamon cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. But adobo-marinated salmon cooked in a banana leaf was more like ordinary pepper-crusted seared salmon over corn and chiffonaded Brussels sprouts. If ever it had encountered a banana leaf, it had kept the potential flavors of that episode secret. Squint your eyes, and much could qualify as continental dining with a splash of Mexico. There is something very dated about swappable accompaniments that snuff out possibilities of regionalism. Pork chop or bacon-wrapped filet mignon, take your pick—both come over queso fresco mashed potatoes. Chicken tinga sopes with identical circlets of purple-corn masa were perfectly symmetrical and perfectly forgettable. Dry duck enchiladas dragged, though their guajillo tortillas were good. A table sign announced Yucatan Wednesdays in August: regionality as weekly excitement. But it was not Wednesday. The order of the day seemed to be bacon-wrapped filet.

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