10 September 2011


Commis only serves one menu for a flat rate of $68 per person. You’re served five courses with a few bonus courses thrown in for good measure. It’s an extremely good deal considering the quality of food served.

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I called and specifically reserved counter seating so we could watch the chefs perform their magic.

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Sorry, no web or fireball spells… Well, not unless you count the web I cast in my pants when I tasted the second course.

First up was a vegetable ash parmesan cookie amuse bouche served in a bowl of rocks.

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Excellent presentation. Nikki described this dish as “a sophisticated cheezit” and I couldn’t’ve said it better myself. Quite delicious. We ordered two glasses of chardonnay with a retardedly long name and shortly after our second amuse bouche (this one being their signature) arrived.

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A perfectly cooked poached egg served over pureed dates and sprinkled with smoked sea salt. Alongside were toasted steel-cut oats and topped with finely chopped spring onions.

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Sweet, custardy, and crunchy, you really can’t go wrong with any of the components in this dish. The toasted oats evoked a flavor similar to freshly popped popcorn.

Bread service done be did happen right around now. House baked levain bread served with an entire stick of softened butter on a piece of slate.

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Nikki’s third, fourth, and fifth course were bread. My third course was when I took a huge hulking bite out of that stick of butter.

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The rolls were fine, but the heavy dusting of flour on top kind of irked me. I’d like to be able to take a bite and not look like I just did a line.

Our first actual course was Albacore sashimi in padron pepper anchoiade, young radish, and toasted sea kelp.

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The dish was very delicate and herbaceous. Something was imparting a very bright “green” flavor—those microgreens would be my guess… or the sea kelp.

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The tuna was slightly fishy, but not unpleasantly so, and was dressed with a very aromatic olive oil.

The second course was Roasted carrots with vinegar and cultured cream, peach and anise hyssop leaves. There were also some raw almonds sprinkled throughout.

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The reason why I couldn’t remember much about the first course was because it lived in the second courses shadow. Not only was this the best thing I ate all week, but it was actually the best I’ve eaten all year. The combination of flavors was simple yet each component was so impeccably fresh and balanced I just can’t do the dish justice with words.

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I thought those were flower petals decorating the plate until my wife pointed out that they were paper-thin slices of carrot designed to look like petals. The juicy hunks of fresh peach acted to offset the cultured cream which I would compare to a Greek yogurt. The crunchy raw almonds provided a nutty backdrop that kept the sweet/tart flavors in check. The licorice flavor from the anise leaves seemingly came out of left field, but after the flavors had a chance to merry the dish was elevated onto a virtually unattainable pedestal. Luckily, I had a change of pants in my backpack. Without question the best vegetarian dish I’ve ever eaten.

The meal could’ve ended here and I would’ve gladly paid my $68 and skipped out the door whistling a jovial tune, but we had many more courses left. Our third ended up being my least favorite course of the meal. Usually the fish course is. What can I say, sushi and fish tacos aside, I’m not much of a fish eater. It was Petale Sole with squid confit in it’s ink, shelling and young Summer beans, Tokyo turnips, and bronze fennel.

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Unfortunately, the ambient noise in the restaurant drowned out most of my voice memo about this dish. The squid was definitely the dishes saving grace and the overall flavor profile brought to mind mild blue crab with it’s mustard.

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The beans were extremely flavorful and had to be eaten with restraint otherwise they completely overpowered everything.

Our main course was Roasted and poached chicken with pig’s blood, foie gras, button chanterelle mushrooms, mustard flowers, and a reduction of chicken jus, lemon, and thyme.

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The flavor of the mustard flower really jumped off the plate; otherwise these flavors were extremely deep and earthy. This was a very comforting and cohesive dish and every component served a purpose. The acidity from the lemon in the reduction served to balance out the other heavy and rich flavors.

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The chicken had a texture I’d never quite experienced, it was firm and so succulent it was almost custardy. The blood pudding was (bloody) icing on the cake. Our chardonnay went really well with this dish—the tart-sweet green apple flavors paired perfectly with the very pork tenderloin-like chicken.

Prior to our dessert course we were served a palette cleanser of frozen cucumber, apple, and eucalyptus.

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Yes, it cleansed my palette.

Dessert was the only instance where we had a choice of how to end our meal. We agreed to order both just to try them. I had the Semi-frozen nectarine chiboust (basically a meringue) with hemp seeds, ice milk, and warm corn pudding. Nikki had the Artisanal cheese (cow’s milk and sheep’s milk), blueberry conserve with hazelnut toast and lavash.

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I wasn’t too impressed with my dessert (generally speaking the dessert course is usually the weakest point of a tasting menu) but I was happy to see the toasted hemp seeds again. They’d make a great breakfast cereal.

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I preferred the cheese course as I thought the nutty sheep’s milk cheese really paired well with the blueberry preserves and the hazelnut toast.

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You can’t really go wrong with cheese, preserves, and wine.

Along with the check we were served a pair of peach gelees that were absolutely dreadful.

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If they wanted to murder us with sugar they could’ve just sutured HFCS to our veins. Ugh, a terrible way to end an otherwise very pleasant meal. We had our server call us a cab and watched the kitchen crew start packing things up for the night. Day one was over, but our adventure had only just begun…

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