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“Good for what it is” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Commis

3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 653-3902
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Ranked #62 of 1,121 Restaurants in Oakland
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: French, Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Rio Vista
Transit: Nearest Bart Station: Macarthur Taxis are often available outside the station for a quick ride to our restaurant.
Description: Commis restaurant serves a cuisine driven by modern and classic culinary traditions and is composed of ingredients that are grown, harvested, and foraged from the land that surrounds us. We offer a nightly coursed menu. ***If you or your dining companions have any food allergies, please note them when completing your reservation. Allergies will be accommodated with a spontaneous vegetarian preparation. Thank you for helping us best serve your party. THE CHEF'S COUNTER SEATING OFFERS A FRONT ROW VIEW OF OUR OPEN KITCHEN AND AVAILABILITY FOR THE COUNTER IS MANAGED DIRECTLY BY THE RESTAURANT.
SF Bay Area
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Good for what it is”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2012

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.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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51 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Just Right”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2012

Sometimes a restaurant gets it Just right. Commis does just that. The minimalist decor is not too dark, not too precious. The service not inattentative, not overly friendly. The Prix fixe menu not too much, not too little. The food, perfection.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
60 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
109 helpful votes 109 helpful votes
“Commis is an intimate, intriguing place for a memorable gastronomic experience! ”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

Commis is a small, comfortable, INTRIGUING, high-end restaurant, offering scrumptious gourmet dishes and wonderful services. 
- Why intriguing? It has NO RESTAURANT NAME on its door, ONLY a street number! 

Our 2 grown children treated us royally at this wonderful little bistro for dinner for my birthday! And what a treat it was, indeed! 
Our friendly host took us to our tastefully setup table, on it there was an envelop with my name and a BD CARD signed by the Chef and rest of the staff! A very nice and warm touch! The small menu is classily printed. We all had the Pre Fixe dinner ($75, 7courses) with Wine pairing ($45), a reasonable price for a high end establishment. Everything had an artistic, appetizing presentation, and were all super-tasty! Although I was not able to pronouce the names of various courses and their accompaning wines, our knowlegeable and friendly waiter did patiently and clearly tell us what we were eating and drinking and what their unique characteristics were! 

What a gastronomical treat and learning experience we had this evening! The service all evening was attentive and very pleasant!  By the way, the portion of each course was small, BUT we all left the restaurant with a comfortably full and happily satisfied feeling.

This famous (albeit well "hidden"), small restaurant has only a few tables, plus a very nice, unique Chef's counter, where one can closely observe chefs at work. It's necessary to make reservations weeks in advance, especially for a space at the Chef's Counter to see the chefs perform! 
- Oh yes, be sure to remember its "Street Number" before getting there!

Peterskis, July 2012

  • Visited July 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Oakland, California, United States
Top Contributor
142 reviews 142 reviews
94 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“Spoil yourself a little...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 12, 2012

I had a prix fix dinner here accompanied with a wine pairing for my meal. As the portions came out, I thought I would leave this place hungry, but I was pleasantly proven wrong.

Commis is a discrete little restaurant hiding behind a very pedestrian unmarked entryway. I think it's a pretty bold and somewhat pretentious thing to hide the restaurant away, conveying that the customers will essentially "come to them." But alas, their pretensions aren't unwarranted. The meal presentation was beautiful, the flavors were complex and fantastic, the pairings were perfection, and I walked away full, somewhat drunk, and very pleased. You definitely get the bang for your buck, but expect to pay for the experience.

  • Visited January 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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San Francisco
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Bay Area Gem”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2012

Commis is a bay area gem where Chez Panisse meets Noma in an intimate setting. Try to get a seat at the Chef’s Counter, which is available only by phone reservation. It gives a unique opportunity to see those chefs at work - cooking and assembling each course with great care and precision. It also gives a glimpse into what comes next.

Everything is perfectly executed here. The menu is absolutely divine with every course in perfect harmony and balance with beauty and elegance. We love the emphasis on fresh vegetables. We had some of the best tasting vegetables here – asparagus that were carefully salted with dried herring roe, peas and avocado in this wonderful sauce, and perfectly grilled shallots with delicious, rich, and foamy broth. Other courses included heavenly oyster, a dish with egg yolk that took us back to the time when we dined at Noma, lamb with faro cereal and mushrooms that was just divine, and a perfect dessert. The wine pairing is a must. This is probably one of our very favorite wine pairings we tried anywhere. However, what makes this place really special is the amazing service – attentive, thoughtful, and considerate. This is probably one of the best meals we had in the US!

  • Visited May 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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