When I told my friends that I would be coming up to the Bay Area, one of the first things they did was reserve the chef’s table at Commis. My friend had been telling me about this young talented chef and how they had been going to his place for over a year since it opened, and how he had an interesting setup in what was formerly a rather scary part of Oakland- “high-end in the hood”, shall we say. Well, I was intrigued.
The chef’s table was actually a bar/counter around a fully functioning kitchen where we were within touching distance of multiple chefs quietly working away. As a matter of fact, considering there were 3-4 chefs behind the counter at any given time, it’s amazing how quietly they worked and how focused they were, talking to each other only in brief hushed tones, if at all.
The first thing they placed in front of us was a bowl of rocks, yes rocks. In the dish were real rocks and fake rocks. To our table’s amusement, one of my companions actually picked up a real rock and nearly broke a tooth because the other “rocks” all looked convincingly real! The chef’s playful illusion was carefully placed parmesan biscuits coated with a vegetable “charcoal” to give them a varied and earthy finish- they looked convincing and tasted good- it was a fun first taste of things to come.
Some of the dishes from our meal that still stand out in my mind include:
the creamy barley soup that was poured around artfully arranged vegetables and micro flowers;
the steak and fowl that were cooked very nicely in front of us- this was not a finishing station with actual cooking being done elsewhere, almost everything going out to the customers was being prepared just inches away from our eyes;
the desserts were also very nice, with the one that sticks out in my mind being a panna cotta with blood orange sorbet that reminded me of a grown-up take on the “creamsicle” ice cream-filled orange popsicles, one of my favorite childhood treats;
and the wine that was served was a lovely organic sauvignon blanc that smelled of jasmine flowers from a local California winery.
The only things that weren’t particularly impressive to me were:
the fish which would have been more enjoyable had the skin been cooked to a crisp;
and the “yolk” amuse bouche, which actually was the restaurant’s signature dish- although amusing, was not particularly to my taste, and was a sous vide egg yolk served atop onion cream with dates and grains- the dish gave the illusion of being a sunny side up egg until you spooned into the “white” which was runny as it was cream and the yolk which was solid- a nice play on expectations, but considering it was a sous vide egg, I had expectations of my own, and would have liked the yolk to have been more custard-like and soft, taking advantage of the capabilities of the sous vide process, rather than the disappointingly firm yolk that was served which was more typical of an average hard-boiled egg.
Overall, an amusing and enjoyable experience- we look forward to seeing the evolution of this young chef and his intriguing inventive creations.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.