Restaurant Spotlight: Commis

A California destination with Thai-influenced fine dining and accessible wines

Restaurant Spotlight: Commis
Chef James Syhabout's cuisine has evolved at Commis since he opened the restaurant in 2009, and the wine list has grown to more than 400 offerings. (Jim Sullivan)
Dec 2, 2021

Located a 30-minute drive east of San Francisco in Oakland, Calif., Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner Commis offers Southeast Asian–inspired cuisine in a refined setting. The intimate dining room has just under 30 seats, and the kitchen is helmed by Thailand-born chef James Syhabout.

Drawing influence from his experience in some of the world’s most acclaimed kitchens such as Best of Award of Excellence–winning Manresa, Syhabout initially opened the restaurant in 2009 with a modern French menu using high-quality ingredients sourced from California. As time went on, Syhabout became more inspired by the food of his childhood. He began infusing his menus with influences from the Thai and Laotian cuisine his mother used to cook for him, maintaining the same regard for technique and top California ingredients.

To match Syhabout's delicate cooking, wine director Mark Guillaudeu has built a dynamic and food-friendly list that holds a Best of Award of Excellence. With more than 400 selections, the wine program features a vast selection of German Rieslings, French whites and Austrian Grüner Veltliners, plus blue-chip bottlings of Pinot Noir from Burgundy and California.

In addition to offering one of the more budget-friendly tasting menus in the Bay Area at $215 per person, Commis prioritizes value on the wine list as well. Guillaudeu spends substantial time hunting down sought-after bottles to offer at low markups, with an emphasis on sustainable winemaking practices, especially organic bottlings. Guillaudeu says his approach encourages guests to try hard-to-find wines, fosters deeper conversations and makes for an overall fun wine list. The team also runs CDP, a casual cocktail bar located right next door, where Commis’ full wine list is available, as are à-la-carte options from the tasting menu.

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