Before Oakland native Chef James Syhanbout opened Commis last year, he'd already garnered countless accolades as a rising culinary star, the result of stints at some of the very best restaurants in the world. Fortunately for East Bay gourmands, when it came time for him to open his own place, Syhanbout decided to head home. How gratifying it must have been, then, that within a year of opening Commis became Oakland's first-ever restaurant with a Michelin star. Given the chef's pedigree and penchant for experimentation (with a dash of molecular gastronomy here and a pleasantly surprising flavor component there), you might expect the food at Commis to be overly intellectual or weird. But this tiny Piedmont Avenue restaurant serves some of the tastiest, most inventive food you'll ever have the pleasure of eating. Syhanbout serves a three-course prix-fixe menu ($59 a person, plus an optional $29 wine pairing) that changes seasonally and allows you to mix and match appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Or make your reservations for the chef's counter, where you'll be served a six-course meal ($95) at the best seats in the house for watching the chefs put your dishes together with Zen-like choreographed precision.
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