Saturday, October 24, 2009


A Fall dinner at Commis in Oakland.  The food is sophisticated and creative, imparting a strong sense of the chef's personality.   The meal aimed to entertain the palate.  The many offerings ranged from something fun like red shiso soda - so brightly colored and fizzy that it looked like old fashioned soda from a soda fountain, to a poached egg and pork belly with black garlic - common ingredients paired with the unique flavor of an unexpected element.  Then an expertly prepared guinea hen with leg confit, high on flavor and style.  And for dessert, a whimsical take on celery and peanut butter. 

Overall, a nice departure from straightforward execution of crowd pleasing standards.  Hooray for expressive cooking!  I look forward to returning to see what's offered when the season changes. 

Here's everything we tried (the menu is from A's memory):

Red Shiso Soda - brightly colored sweet sparkling soda packing a good punch of sweet and sour, a nice way to wake up the palate. 
Hen Egg Yolk over onion soup date puree and sesame

Beet salad

Poached Egg, pork belly, black garlic - I love this use of black garlic. The pungent garlicky and slightly sweet flavor played nicely against the hearty yolk and fatty pork belly.

Monterey Bay squid w/turnips

Kabocha squash soup w/some kind of cream, vegetables, and herb (kaffir lime?)

Cod over celery puree, mustard, vegetables

Sirloin tip cap, fennel salsa verde, wilted spinach, pearl barley, some kind of celery/rhubarb - The description didn't sound as exciting as the actual dish.  Fork tender beef with a combination of salsa verde and spinach that came together as a multi-dimensional mix of flavors.

Guinea Hen breast w/ leg confit, caramelized sunchokes and chanterelle mushrooms - this was my favorite of the night.  I anticipated the meat to be dry or tough.  It came in one piece with both breast and leg confit in one roll, so simple looking but skillfully prepared -- tender, juicy and perfect with the earthy flavor of mushroom and sunchoke.

Roquefort with plum compote and pistachio

White Cheddar Cheesecake with green apple and toffee threads

Celery Cake with celery ice cream over grape jelly and crushed peanuts - an interesting play on celery with peanut butter. 

Absinthe gelee

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