Oakland: Commis (March 2014)
Exec Chef: James Syhabout
I’ve been meaning to try Commis since summer 2013 and finally was able to! It’s quite an amazing restaurant. The decor, and to a certain extent the food too, is very minimalist. Things are pretty but bare, which I can appreciate because it translates into a focus on food. There’s a kind of no-nonsense approach to the food, where what you get is just beautifully cooked dishes made with very fresh ingredients. There’s very little flash or flare (although part of the kitchen is open) but I think that actually helps cut down on the cost (the location is a factor too) so that what the diner get is just great food for a great price.
1. Carmelized Onion Financier, Pickled Green Strawberries with Goats Milk and Dill
The light and refreshing amuse really wowed me. The onion biscuit was just this super sweet oniony fluffy muffin that had none of the harshness of actual raw onions. Incredible.
2. Oyster with Frozen Kumquat, Elderflower, and Black Pepper
Paired with dama del rovere, durella, brenton ronca, italy nv
It was a deliciously sweet and fresh oyster with the sweet and tart kumquat adding additional depth of flavor. The elderflower also added a light, aromatic touch. Props for clever presentation!
3. Sea Water Brined Bay SCallops, Rhubarb and Radish, Flowering Coriander
paired with max ferd, richter, graacher himmelreich kabinett, mosel, germany 1991
I loved this dish. The scallops were tiny, but extremely sweet. The rhubarb and radish again added a great tart/sweet note to the dish.
4. Asparagus in Chlorophyll, Smoked Trout Mousse with Sorrel
paired with brundmayer, gruner veltiner, kampaler terrasen, langerlois, austria 2012
A really simple dish that showcased the fresh simple (but really not) approach of California Cuisine!
Super crusty on the outside, yet soft and chewy in the middle. Fantastic. Tasted kind of healthy too but not in a terrible way.
6. Slow Poached Egg Yolk with Buckwheat and Spice, Warm Potato
paired with francois pinon, vouvray, silex noir, loire valley, france 2011
A really clever dish with an egg yolk and potato puree made to look like the egg white. It was super comforting, as eggs and potatoes would have to be.
7. Sea Bream, Artichoke in Fumet, Capers and Young Garlic
paired with isabelle et deris pommier, chablis, burgundy, france 2008
Another light and refreshing dish, although I wish there were stronger flavors other than the artichoke. Then again, I may have just missed the complex subtleties of this one.
8. Tisane of Button Mushrooms
Yuuuum mushroom broth.
9. Grilled Lamb Saddle with Oregano, Oats and Grains with Brassicas (or what’s left of it…I kind of ate it really eagerly)
paired with vignale di ciecilia, covolo, colli eugenei, italy 2009
You’ll just have to trust me that this was extremely delicious. You probably can’t tell by its initial looks, but you can tell by how much I left on the plate.
10. Beer Washed Cow’s Milk Cheese, Golden Raisin and Cress
A fantastic cheese course. Slightly sweet, very milky, and a great contrast in texture between the soft cheese and crisp on top.
11. Vanilla Ice with Sour Orange and Meyer Lemon
This was like a panna cotta in its texture and flavor, just this really sweet milky pudding like cup that I absolutely enjoyed. The tanginess from the fruity elements was fantastic.
12. Perfumed Sour Apples with Yogurt, Parsnip Pudding and Caramel
paired with grande maison, cuvee des anges, moribaziliac, france 2008
Apples and caramel, you pretty much can’t ever go wrong there. In a way, I almost didn’t enjoy this dish because it was such a no-brainer.
All in all, a great meal. The portions are a bit small, and by that I mean you leave the restaurant feeling perfectly content and satisfied, instead of ready to food coma. The flavors are pretty bright and there’s a lot of acid in the dishes. The wine pairing was also really worth it, with unique wines that were light but went well with the dishes. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who has time/$$$ to give it a try :)