Commis - Oakland

Had a friend visiting from out of town and Commis happened to have seats a few days in advance. Given that there was no menu online, I didn’t want to spoil myself by looking at pictures of other’s meals, so I didn’t really know what I was walking into.

Three bites to start us off…

kusshi oyster with sansho pepper & white guava
Sansho & guava turned out to be a great combination without overpowering the oyster. Very smooth.

taro root & scallop gaufrette with lemongrass
Nice bite with good textural contrast (crunch from the taro chip, bite from the scallop).

caramelized onion financier with sour cream
This was :fire: - mad genius level shit to make an onion-flavored financier and pull it off spectacularly. I haven’t had a lot of financiers in my life but this was easily the best and it wasn’t even meant to be a dessert (though it was still a bit sweet).

Now getting into the main courses…

dungeness crab with pomelo, lemongrass & monterey seaweed
Meh? I didn’t get enough of the pomelo to balance out the crab & seaweed.

confit beetroot, sweet potato vinegar, green peppercorn & finger limes
Highlight - beet served two ways: one seemed “normal”, and the other was almost like it was dehydrated & chewy? Vinegar was a great offset. Had a lot going on without being too busy. I’m not sure if this rivaled Angler’s infamous beet but if not it sure came close.

kaluga caviar with parsley root, french sorrel & dill
Two highlights in a row! I’m not much one for caviar but the parsley root here was incredible, easily rivaling the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, and the caviar was a great counterpoint. Left out of the menu description was the apple molasses, which despite the name was barely sweet at all, and had a very light flavor, just accenting each bite.

(off menu) pearl tapioca dumpling, ???, ginger
Very interesting, never had anything quite like it before. The “dumpling” itself was great, with the pearl tapioca holding together quite well. This wasn’t a knockout only because the filling of what I think was ground pork was a bit gristly. The ginger flavor was a pretty classic callout and worked fine.

slow poached egg yolk, smoked dates, alliums & malt
The hits keep coming and they don’t stop coming… absolutely insane combination of flavors and textures. Everything here was stupendous. I can’t imagine what makes you decide to put together a slow poached egg yolk, chives, malt, and smoked date puree (hidden at the bottom), but wow.

(accompaniment) bread & butter
Both made in-house, and both fantastic. I pretty much never put butter on my bread but I did this time, it was that good.

grilled monkfish, dashi glaze, mussel liquor with yellow mustard seed
Bit of a whiff, in my opinion. Monkfish was a touch overcooked and all the flavors were just pointing in the same direction along the savory/bitter axis.

bison loin, porcini powder with warm spices, chestnut & goji berries
I’ve only had bison a couple of times in my life before, but this was better-cooked than most steaks I’ve had. Everything above and below it was tasty too.

sea lettuce & sprouted brown rice congee with chanterelle mushrooms
Served with pickled vegetables, which we were instructed to mix into the congee. Pretty good but congee’s not really my thing. The pickled carrot was great, better than the ones I make.

Now for dessert…

salted pineapple & green apples with shiso & absinthe
I’m very much not a shaved ice kind of guy, and when I heard the description I was even more skeptical, but I was wrong. This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Every component was good individually - the salted pineapple side (left), the green apple w/shiso side (right), the absinthe cream hidden in the middle, the unlisted bites of half-dehydrated & rehydrated apple studded throughout. Taken together they were even better. I liked the nod at some classic flavor pairings, with the pineapple & absinthe, but the other combinations were new to me and worked at least as well.

laminated brioche, caramelized palm sugar ice cream, coffee & sheep milk
Flawless “brioche”, which reminded me of nothing other than reified cinnamon bun, with the “caramelized” edges. The coffee syrup underneath was inspired - like a distillation of the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Ice cream came with what I think were cocoa bean nibs? Pretty great.


coconut & herb capsule
I didn’t realize this was frozen until I’d put the whole thing in my mouth. :sweat_smile: Thankfully it was manageable - sort of like a compressed “rolled” ice cream (though I’m not sure if it had dairy in it or not). Herby. Would eat again.

Made of rice. Not very sweet. Nice.

mochi, passionfruit, egg yolk caramel
The passionfruit & egg yolk caramel was killer.


At the end of the meal, I remarked to my friend: “I can’t believe this place doesn’t have any stars.” Then I pulled out my phone to check, and, uh, turns out it has two. No wonder the food was so good? In a way I’m happier I didn’t know since I didn’t really have any expectations going in, and was very happily surprised throughout much of the meal.

Now, is it actually worth two stars? :person_shrugging: I don’t have a whole lot to compare it to. It was interesting throughout, and compares favorably to more expensive meals that I’ve had which I was still happy with (i.e. Manzke). I was certainly happy with my choices before I learned that it had any stars, which is the important thing.


Love the detailed report!


I’m not really in to a lot of the higher end ‘tasting menu’ thing but boy, this lineup makes me seriously reconsider.

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their cocktail program (at the bar next door) is also exceptional. and they currently have a 4-course prix-fixe at the bar too. C.D.P. - Commis's bar

ode to the farallons is a trip (and now they even have a non-alcoholic version)

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They don’t call it C.D.P. any more. It’s just their bar.

My friend got the Old Fashioned and I had a sip - it was indeed quite good.

The egg dish is the only permanent item on Commis’ menu. His fans won’t let him remove it from the menu!

Sounds like you had a great time, and the photos are excellent quality.

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there is a mind of a chef segment on youtube where he details the egg dish construction to david kinch

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Checks out! It’s a great dish.