Oakland continues to evolve and maintain its destination status thanks in large part to Commis and its hard-working troupe. This serene elder from Chef/owner James Syhabout is packed every night for its menu of measured and well-conceived dishes.
Tucked into colorful Piedmont Avenue, the space is long and neat, with a smattering of tables, cozy banquette seating in the back; and a lively counter overlooking the kitchen. Soft music and a vibrant staff set the mood—cool and contemporary; relaxed but never casual.
In the kitchen, Chef Syhabout pairs local ingredients with precise technique; he also pulls from his Thai and Chinese heritage to deliver an elegant menu full of familiar flavors that taste as wonderful as they look. Dinner might unveil silky scallops with crème fraîche, poached asparagus and charred lemon granité. That signature slow-poached egg yolk sitting in a bed of onion- and malt-infused cream is a consistent and thrilling revelation; while white sturgeon caviar with creamed potato and beer-marinated onion resembles an elevated sour cream-and-onion dip. Perfectly cooked mussels set over porridge-like grains is yet another instance of this team's keen vision and laser focus.