Open-kitchen experiments with unique ingredients to craft inspired New American fixed-price dinners.
Chef/owner James Syhabout may be keeping busy outside of Commis at his other popular restaurants, but this sparse Oakland original is still turning out elegant and creatively complex seasonal dishes to a packed house every night. Tucked into colorful, boutique-strewn Piedmont Avenue, this dining space is a long, clean, minimalist number with a smattering of tables up front; intimate banquette seating in the back; and a lively counter overlooking the humming kitchen. Soft hip-hop music and a vibrant service staff set the mood-cool and contemporary; relaxed but serious. In the kitchen, Chef Syhabout pairs well-sourced, local ingredients with precise technique to create his sophisticated nightly tasting, which continues to be exciting even for jaded gourmands. Dinner might unveil a plate of silky scallops paired with tangy crème fraîche, poached asparagus, and charred lemon granité; warm, roasted abalone with artichoke heart, fried artichoke slivers, and chicken sabayon; or a chilled fava bean soup laced with tarragon-infused crème fraîche, green tomato gelée, and smoked trout roe. A perfectly poached halibut with spring pea "porridge" and ginger foam is another beautifully composed plate that reflects the kitchen's attention to detail.