Commis - Oakland, CA

Dinner - Sunday, November 14, 2010

Commis is the brainchild of the young James Syhabout, formerly the chef de cuisine at Manresa (the man has also done stints at el Bulli, Mugaritz and The Fat Duck). His background clearly shows itself in the plating and flavour profiles of his dishes (see below).

The space is small - probably no more than 30-35 covers. This allows James and just 3 other chefs to comfortably handle the workload. The menu consists solely of a 4-course tasting menu ($68) that changes continuously. Each course presents two options, for a total of 8 dishes (9 including an optional cheese course) - two dishes are assigned to each chef.

PassionFish - Pacific Grove, CA

Dinner - Saturday, November 13, 2010

As the name suggests, Chef Ted Walter is passionate about the sustainable seafood movement. This ethos is well reflected by his seasonal, organic menu. We dined here the night before running the Big Sur half-marathon, and this is reflected by our menu choices - only two seafood courses ordered, not for fear of upset stomachs, but because we were craving heavy food.

Service was efficient and genial, and our server happily kept the excellent bread basket filled with warm baguettes after hearing about our upcoming race.