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Jul 29, 2011 08:14 AM

Commis [Oakland]: Make the Trip Over the Bridge!

When I have a really wonderful dining experience, I get positively giddy, occasionally skipping on the way out. When I look at a menu that surprises me and makes me giddy with anticipation, l literally giggle--and clap. It has been over a year since we ate at Commis, and it was the highlight of last year's dining experiences--definitely something that made me giddy. On the same trip, we went to "Redd" up in Yountville, which to our palates wasn't even in the same league. Unfortunately, since it has been over a year, I can't add the detail I would like to, but I did want to add my positive review.

The dish I remember most from our experience at Commis was a fluke tartare with a coriander snow, and something else black and more robust in flavor. This dish was outstanding, the best dish I ate in 2010. Fluke has to be SOOOO fresh to be good, and this was exactly that. The coriander snow only added a delicate boost to the fish, without in any way taking away from the beauty of the fish. It was also a ton of fish, which was very welcome, since it was so good.

Commis' space is lovely, spare and airy, and seems to fit the food perfectly. The wine pairings were great, and with the whole bill coming in at just over $200 with wine, it's hard to think of a better place to spend an evening in the Bay Area. In fact, if I had only one dinner to have during a trip to SF, it would be Commis. It is more original than some of the other "big restaurants," and literally refreshing. You will be smiling (or if you're like me, perhaps adding the odd skip to your step) when you leave because the experience is so pleasant-- pleasant on every axis you could measure.

3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

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  1. I'm resurrecting this post to endorse the thoughts expressed. Mrs. Rapini and I celebrated our anniversary at Commis last night, and enjoyed one of the best meals in recent experience.

    I'm not going to give a plate-by-plate rundown, but will say that each dish was exquisite in its own right, and that the wine pairings worked successfully with each course. There were also about two or three amuse, and a palate cleanser--every one a marvel.

    For an anniversary dinner, I'd say we spent more time with our eyes closed, savoring each bite, than eyes open looking longingly at each other. Please note: that's more a statement on the Commis dining experience, than on the status of our relationship,

    Get thee hence to Commis.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Rapini

      Happy anniversary! We celebrated our 27th anniversary at Commis on New Year's Eve. Our anniversary is a tough night. Most good restaurants are fully booked and the atmosphere can be hectic. The stakes are high, and I almost always find that the service is challenged by the crowds. On New Year's Eve Commis is, like every other night, calm. The excitement is all on the plate. Absolutely perfect for our purposes.

      1. re: lexdevil

        We chose January 1st to marry, because at our advancing ages, we figured it would be easier to remember. For several years in the past, we celebrated NYE at Jojo--same address, and wonderful food. After last night's dinner, I can easily imagine having our anniversary dinner at Commis every year.

      2. re: Rapini

        I thought about going on impulse yesterday, but they were booked up, maybe partly because they're on vacation this week.

        1. re: Rapini

          I agree. I finally made the schlep across the bridge this past Friday. I was very impressed with the food and found the restaurant a great value considering quality, precision, innovation. I thought the wine pairing was nice too. Service was both friendly and professional. I will happily return.

          1. re: Leely2

            Even after a generous tip, our dinner at Commis cost about 60% of the cost of a thoroughly disappointing meal we had (post-Syhabout) Manresa, and gave us multiple times more pleasure

        2. i don't think the food itself at commis is any better (or worse) than coi, but where commis really shines is the price point being far lower (as well as a far more casual atmosphere, and an open kitchen)

          1 Reply
          1. re: vulber

            I'll never go back to Coi again. I have this feeling I was there on an off night, but it's not worth the money to risk going back.
            If they were priced like Commis, I'd take a gamble and give them another try.

          2. I want to weigh in as well and say that Commis left me giddy tonight. I am normally underwhelmed by high end dining, but there was something savory, real, and down to earth about Commis that just sold the whole experience for me. For comparison's sake, I've enjoyed meals at Commonwealth and Saison, been disappointed at Coi, and absolutely abhorred WD50 in NYC.

            I found tonight's meal to be well-balanced, inventive, and most of all, tasty from start to finish. Often at restaurants that play with foams and unusual ingredients like ash, there will be misses mixed in with the hits. Though my husband and I had our favorites (I will be crushed if we don't find the perfectly poached egg yolk with onion soup, date puree, and steel cut oats on our next foray), I found the meal to be consistently excellent. So worth the trip to the east bay.

            1. We were both greatly looking forward to this meal, but walking up to the restaurant, I was slightly worried we would hear the small, but extremely vocal bunch of anti-foie protestors in front of Bay Wolf. We didn't hear any of the noise once inside Commis. And I really have no dissenting opinion to add here: a delicious meal.

              My wife's favorite was undoubtedly a prawn tartare dish, which she savored like few other dishes I've ever seen her consume. I thought that was possibly the best dish, but then again, it could have been the aforementioned onion soup with egg yolk and smoked date, or possibly an oyster in sea foam with pickled fennel, or the citrusy palate cleanser. We sat at the counter, enjoyed watching the chefs, and had fun guessing what the various components were.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Kirk_T

                please describe this prawn tartare

                1. re: vulber

                  I don't have the menu with me, so I could be a little off. The very fresh and sweet spot prawns from Monterey Bay (per the chef) were plated in a circle, with a a sauce made from its roe underneath, and a yuzu vinaigrette on top. The prawns were surrounded by different colored, dried, and crunchy chrysanthemums. We did not see the plating for this dish from our counter seat, so it was a surprise to see the beautiful dish presented, and it tasted just as good.

                  1. re: Kirk_T

                    Yes, I thought this was the best dish of the night a couple weeks ago. I think it had avocado beneath the prawns as well. The floral notes from the chrysanthemums and the quality of the shrimp... amazing.

                    We also loved the apple sponge dessert, which was unlike anything I've ever had. Apparently, they bake a cake and make apple cider in house, then blend the two with a bit of gelatin, aerate it with a whipped cream maker (or whatever the right word is), and then flash freeze it. It then melts in your mouth -- not quite a cake and not quite a semi-freddo, with intense apple flavor. Complimented by charred puffed rice, winter spices, and ice cream.