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1511 17th St., NW (Dupont Circle)
HOURSTue.-Thurs.: 5:30pm-10:00pm; Fri.-Sat.: 5:30pm-10:30pm
RESERVATIONSNot accepted; arrive before the restaurant opens to join the line for a table.
PRICE (FAMILY-STYLE TASTING MENU)USD 45 per person
FAMOUS PLATESMenus change weekly; nam prik kapi (crispy pork skins) if available
DRINKS AND WINELimited beer and wine selection
# OF SEATS28
PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?No
Chef Johnny Monis has a reputation for being shy around the press, but we suspect he appreciates the hype that his elusive attitude has earned him. Little Serow (located downstairs from its sister restaurant, Komi) is a dim basement dining room with pale green stucco walls, plain white plates, paper napkins, and a raw scrappiness about it, completed by the bluegrass background music. Outside, there isn’t even a sign on the front door, but every Tuesday through Saturday evening, a line begins to form in front of the restaurant long before it opens with eager devotees of Chef Monis’s highly acclaimed kitchen waiting for their chance to get a table. Once inside, waitresses dressed in hipster vintage dresses provide a friendly yet firm explanation of how the night will work—no substitutions, no special requests. Just sit back and enjoy the ultra-refined seven-course Thai tasting menu. The chef's endurance is noteworthy: he cooks up a new menu each week, and meals can stretch to three hours long.
Ultimate devotees to Thai cuisine or to Chef Monis; food lovers who are willing to wait for their eats
WHAT WE WOULD WEAR
Something understated and elegant—black trousers and a simple silk blouse with a dangling pendant necklace would be perfect.
GO HERE WITH
Significant other; a few Thai-food-worshipping friends (tables limited to four people)
WHY WE LIKE IT
Since most of the dishes are new to us, we appreciate the helpfulness from wait staff. We also appreciate that the restaurant will shoot us a text when our table opens up, instead of us awkwardly having to mill around with those Hank's Oyster Bar while we wait). Finally, we like the excitement of letting Chef Monis completely steer the meal—otherwise it would be impossible for them to keep the prices so reasonable. Monis’s pair of restaurants (Little Serow and Komi) have definitely brought the whole 17th Street dining scene up a few pegs.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
We’ll admit, the heat in the food can be a bit overwhelming at times (avoid this restaurant if you don’t like spice!). It’s also too bad that there are no exceptions in the menu for people with allergies. And then there’s the wait−we understand that they’re going for an intimate dining room, but when we have to wait two (or more) hours for one of the 28 seats, we’re pretty bummed out.
GOOD TO KNOW
Definitely avoid Little Serow if you have nut or shellfish allergies or if you don’t eat meat, especially pork; they have no exceptions on their menu and sometimes these ingredients aren’t listed in the online menu.
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