Commis, the East Bay’s only two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant, turns 15 this June, and it’s just as good as ever.
The two-star stunner recently debuted on OpenTable with reservations in the dining room and at its bar. “Now, less is more,” chef James Syhabout says about the style of his food right now at the restaurant. “It’s not too fussy, jumbled up, or showy. The creations aren’t forced, it’s more relaxed.”
The restaurant’s been consistently impressing diners and critics since it opened in 2009 because it reflects Syhabout’s journey: He was born in northeast Thailand, grew up in Oakland, and now does laidback but luxurious fine dining that spotlights local ingredients with Southeast Asian influences.
With that in mind, Syhabout recommends the full tasting menu for special occasions and the bar for when you want a slightly more casual experience. Either way, here’s the inside scoop on both and how to have the best time at Commis.
The 10-course feast ($225) opens in the minimalist dining room with cool oysters, raw fish, and salads; progresses into warm seafood; and finishes with rice.
Expect fresh, seasonal updates, but some things will always stay, like the fan-favorite slow-poached egg yolk that arrives in a bowl with smoked dates and an onion sauce. Locals also eagerly await Dungeness crab season to get a taste of Commis’s soup with bright Meyer lemon and herbal Chrysanthemum greens, all served in an orb over flower petals. Plus, you can always get extra fancy by adding Wagyu and caviar to your meal.
There’s an optional $119 beverage pairing, where sommelier Andrew Browne creates a globe-trotting tasting that never repeats a country, so you can easily end up on a journey from Georgian wine to Korean soju.
This condensed tasting ($95) at the marble bar has four courses. Think of this as your Commis greatest hits experience: a snacky starter, salad, warm seafood, and dessert. And you’re obviously getting the legendary egg yolk.
You can always do the beverage pairing (a mini $55 version), but there’s also a cocktail list that’s tailor made for this more laidback tasting (you can also order cocktails in the dining room).
Hot tip: For a one-of-a-kind evening, let the suited bartenders guide you through the extensive selection of brandy that’s made from different fruits and sourced from around the world.
Commis only offers reservations 30 days in advance, so check a few weeks ahead. The bar and the dining room are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm.
Becky Duffett is a food writer living and eating in San Francisco. She was the deputy editor at Eater SF and has written for The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bon Appétit, among other places. Follow her on Instagram at @beckyduffett.