Dinner – Saturday, January 13, 2018
Our last visit to Commis was shortly after they received their second Michelin star. I was impressed by their growth then, and vowed to revisit soon. Alas, it’s been 1.5 years – time has flown. I also said of the kitchen counter, “I can’t imagine dining any other way here”. Of course, with guests from out of town in tow, we found ourselves in the dining room for the first time!
Pacific oyster, buckwheat, bay laurel
Caramelized onion financier, sour cream
Aged beef, celery
Ocean trout and its smoked roe, daikon, yuzu
Turnips, ham, pear, pine
A simple-looking bowl that belied the amazing flavours contained within – crunchy turnips with a delicate acidity, set in a rich cream infused with country ham. Elements of cold pear and pine offset the saltiness of the cream. Perfectly balanced – a 3* dish.
California white sturgeon caviar, beer-pickled onions
Another hit after the turnips above. This dish was all about textures – creamy, smooth, popping, crunchy. The warm, enveloping creamed potato stood in stark contrast to the chill of the previous course. Excellent.
Mussels, winter brassicas and grains
Pork and tapioca dumpling, ginger, pecans
Slow-poached egg yolk
Smoked dates, alliums, malt
Monterey Bay abalone
Liver XO, fermented lettuces
Very well cooked and seasoned – tender with a trace of char along the skirt of the abalone. Every component was packed with umami but did not overwhelm – fantastic.
Smoked pork bone broth
Aged pork loin, pumpkin, sea lettuce
Cucumber, crême fraiche, Thai basil, lime
A refreshing interlude after the richness of the last few savoury courses. The Thai basil was much less prominent than I would’ve expected, but the ice cream was pleasant.
Cream custard, blood orange granita
Jerusalem artichoke, sunflower, Granny Smith apples
Sunchoke ice cream, topped with a sandwich of sunflower butter between apple chips. The dessert took great advantage of the root’s natural sweetness. Very strong.
Juniper and dark chocolate truffles
Jasmine pâte de fruit, chamomile marshmallows
The menu structure remains the same as our previous visit, and I’m happy to report that a minimalist aesthetic holds, with no unnecessary flourishes in the courses. Even at $159, Commis remains, to me, the best fine-dining value in the Bay Area. And though the dining room is pleasant enough, it’s back to the kitchen counter for us next time!