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.
Exec Chef: Michael Cimarusti
Date: April 20, 2013
Dinner: 9-Course Tasting
Providence has been high on my list for a while now, and I finally got to try it today! Unfortunately, our reservation was for 9:30 p.m., and they apparently stop serving the 14-course Chef’s Tasting after 9:00 p.m. We settled for the 9-course, which was pretty solid.
The service wasn’t too great. They didn’t make any mistakes or anything, but the waiters were pretty stiff—it made us feel a bit out of place. To be fair, we WERE underdressed; still, it’s LA! It should totally be fine for us to dress relatively casually haha. Maybe it was because we were really young? I dunno.
I really want to write more about the courses of this meal, but I can’t bring myself to do it. It was one of those weird meals where you KNOW the food is objectively really good… but it was just a bad experience. A lot of the dishes were solid and of the quality that you’d expect from a restaurant of this caliber, and there were definitely some amazing courses. Still… I can’t help but feel that I enjoyed the experience at Yamakase the previous night more.
Exec Chef: Tyson Cole
Chef de Cuisine: Kaz Edwards
Date: March 20, 2013
I have wanted to try Uchi for a few months now, especially after hearing my friends from Texas rave about it. Anyway, I decided to visit a friend in Houston because I was in the area (New Orleans! Whoo!), and I decided that I should finally try the restaurant!
The restaurant’s a LOT bigger than I thought it would be. The restaurant would NOT be able to be as big as it was in NYC haha. Oh, Texas… Anyway, the restaurant has five separate dining areas. The wine bar seating has no reservations, and you can sit there and eat or drink if you can manage to snag a seat. The cocktail tables outside serve cocktails and little snacks, such as edamame. The tables and sushi bar usually have reservations, but you can still get seated if you wait (usually at least an hour); Uchi only allows reservations for a relatively small portion of the tables/seats. You can’t reserve directly for the sushi bar, though; it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lastly, the private dining room is generally for dinner parties or business dinners.
We arrived about an hour early, so we just started chatting a bit near the wine bar. We eventually snagged seats at the wine bar and ordered a few appetizers before we started our main meal (comprised of mainly nigiri) at the sushi bar.
The food’s fantastic and really, really creative. I personally think some of the places in NYC are better in terms of traditional nigiri, especially when you consider only the rice and the fish. I’ve had places in NYC with better fish, rice, or both, but what this place does well (and it does it REALLY well) is execution of more modern and innovative flavor combinations. You have to check out the menu to see what I mean! (You can check out the menu here.)
I really wish I could eat everything on the menu. Everything just looks… delicious, fascinating, innovative, creative, and at times even genius, crazy, or both. Chef Cole is onto something here. I really wish NYC had a restaurant like this.
The rice was about room temperature and could arguably be a little warmer. Also, it wasn’t too fluffy; it could definitely be a little softer and fluffier.
The fish was really fresh overall, but I think the rarer pieces (like the threadfin snapper or the albacore) were better than the more common pieces (like akami or sake). I thought this was a shame; really good akami is something that can make me a really happy eater—the akami here was merely good :(.
Regarding the nigiri, the fish didn’t always melt in my mouth, and it could be pretty inconsistent. At times, the sushi piece was amazing, and the fish tasted really, really fresh; at other times, the nigiri merely tasted pretty good.
I’m a little sad that Uchi doesn’t serve chūtoro, ōtoro, or tamago. I’m curious as to what Chef Cole would do with those ingredients.