Great staff. Great atmosphere. Great food.
The staff is warm, the restaurant is convivial and personal, the food is the tops in its category. The majority of people who like California cuisine should like Commis..
I had (with wine pairings)
- Complementary pretty, fizzy pink shiso seltzer
- Amuse: glass of apple cider from Normandy
- Amuse: poached egg with date malt, smoked salt, chives and granola
- House-baked Parker House rolls and house-made butter
- Seared mussels, apples, turnip and radish with aforado watercress, squid broth
- Guinea fowl with natural renderings,caramelized sunchokes, escarole, tarragon bread crumbs
- Celery root cake, grape jelly, almond crumble, celery sorbet
- Complementary absinthe gelee
There were ingredients in the dishes that were not part of the menu description. There were trumpet mushrooms with the guinea fowl. It really didn’t matter. It was about deliciousness not descriptions.
The poached egg was the first dish that had my eyes rolling back in my head with delight. That contrast of textures and flavors … sweet, sour, salty, unctuous, foamy, and crunchy.
This was interesting to see being put together. The date mixture is spread on the bottom of a small lovely, simple brown bowl and sea salt sprinkled on it. The eggs were poached in-shell … don’t know how that doesn’t make them soft boiled though. Then they were broken into a separate bowl and the chef used a spoon to shake the white off the yolk. That deserved applause in itself. It was delicate, work and out of the 20 I watched being made, not one egg yolk broke. Then egg and white were put in the bowl … the white at first I thought was foam. The chives and granola added on one side.
There were 10 plump shelled Mediterranean mussels. The watercress was braised with slices of the veggies mixed in. There were also tiny mint leaves… or something tasting of mint which was a great combo with the mussels. The squid broth is like a clam broth … excellent and highly recommended dish.
The guinea fowl was interesting and tasty. I also am guessing there were potatoes involved. There was something in there that tasted like sliced baby potatoes with the most wonderful crust and a soft, exquisite interior. Maybe the sunchokes. The beautiful meaty mushrooms were fabulous. There were two rolled coins of the most tender breast. That I kept as my last bite. There was a confit of the leg topped with tarragon crumbs.A rich pool of the rendering juice was on the bottom.
The celery dessert wasn’t as weird as it sounds. The cake was a slice like a buttery financier. The jelly was dabs of grape sauce. Celery makes a refreshing and pretty sorbet. All the flavors harmonized perfectly.
Top notch Parker House rolls were replenished during the meal. The butter had a tang to it almost like yogurt.
The absinthe gelee was a fun idea. Didn’t taste like absinthe but it was pretty.
I’m not good with wine. The only one I remember was the Bugey Cerdson Rosé Patrick Bottex which was an absolutely perfect pairing with the celery sorbet. Kermit Lnych carries it and I’m pretty sure it is always at Berkeley Bowl.
I’m not quite sure if the cider amuse was only served if the wine pairing was ordered.
The bottle and label were displayed with a brief explanation given before being poured . Ditto on a brief explanation of the dishes and they were really good about answering question.
It wasn’t at all what I imagined. It was NOT stark with precious dishes and small portions
The staff was a big surprise. They were the best … friendly without being chummy ... on top of orders without hovering ... very knowledgeable … super professional without being stuffy. They are the best I’ve seen since my beloved Bizou closed.
The whole staff just works together with precision. When a dish was ready and one of the wait staff was unavailable, the chef walked it over to the table. The servers did some final touches on the dishes such as wiping the edges of the plate before bringing it to the table.
Maybe night, with lower lights and glowing candles on the tables, the place seems less sterile. I’d almost call it romantic though it had a festive, convivial feel.
The check came to $96 with tax. I’ve spent more than that elsewhere ordering a la carte. I went in thinking that like downstairs at Chez Panisse it would be a yearly special occasion restaurant for me. However, I liked so much about it I’ll be stopping in more than that.
The name is French so drop the "s" pronouncing it.A 7x7 article says ...
"Syhabout is modest to the point of shy. He got the name Commis (a French term for an apprentice chef) from Marco Pierre White’s book, White Heat. “In the French kitchen, the lowest ranks wear a blue apron and the chef wears a white apron,” explains Syhabout. “White says, ‘We all wear blue aprons; we’re all still learning.’ I took that to heart.”
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611