Only one pre-fixe available. Only option is dessert: sweet or cheese? 7 courses plus 2 amuse-bouches = nine bites of food. Precisely. Nine, no more. Of the 9, only 2 were remarkable. They were very good indeed, but the rest - eh. In 45 years of dining, including the original nouvelle cuisine Le Petit Chaya in LA as well as the classic La Bourgogne in SF, I can assure you that yes, Syhabout is brilliant when he creates a winner...and no, not everything he creates is a winner.
There are many brilliant, equally talented chefs in the Bay Area. Modernist cuisine, like the nouvelle cuisine of the 1980's, is focused on effect and shock value. It is haute cuisine with ADHD - some of it amazing, most of it variants you've seen before done equally well elsewhere, and some of it is only "why are these ingredients even on the same plate?"
Commis is unique in Oakland, and for that reason alone it's worth going. But like Bauhaus architecture, it often feels like more of an intellectual exercise than someplace you want to actually live in.
It's amusing that so many people think it's A Big Thing that Commis' name is impossible to find. Many restaurants have done this before, and of course Michael Mina's original Aqua comes immediately to mind. If you didn't know where to look, Aqua's name was unnoticeable.
Service is very good, but as is typical in most of the Bay Area, there is no maitre d' so there are a few 'dropped balls' occasionally. I doubt most people would notice, however.
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