We recently headed over to the Presidio to check out Chef Traci Des Jardin’s latest restaurant, The Commissary. Incorporated into the park’s barracks, the restaurant celebrates the Presidio’s historic past and promises a Spanish influenced California cuisine with locally sourced origins. As we visited the restaurant only six days into its opening, we were more concerned about passion and effort than on minor kinks and execution. Below is a summary of our findings.
Interior / Exterior
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-interior-exterior”]The restaurant is located in one of Presidio’s 120 year old Montgomery Street Barracks, adjacent to the grassy Main Parade Grounds. With its brick facade, porch columns, and decorative accents, the Colonial Revival styled entrance looks both stately and historic. The large entrance doors lead to a spacious high ceiling dining area with a small rear situated bar. Past the main dining area lies a back room with an impressive open kitchen and bar style seating around its perimeter.
Sitting near the open kitchen gave us an opportunity to witness the kitchen dynamics first hand. We saw the cooks meticulously assemble the finished dishes, the pastry chef prepare the desserts, and executive chef Reylon Agustin command over all kitchen activities. The kitchen staff looked orderly and there seemed to be an attention to detail to cooking methods and dish assemblage.
The service was spirited, enthusiastic and promptly attended to our needs. As our seats were situated near the open kitchen, we were impressed on how the cooks and chefs asked for our feedback on drinks and entrees.
Sand and Fog Cocktail (scotch, sherry, eucalyptus, nettles)
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-sand-and-fog-cocktail”]With its moss green colored liquor and submerged eucalyptus leaf, the sand and fog cocktail presented well but its overall flavor lacked in taste and complexity. Maybe there were missing or wrongly apportioned ingredients as the listed dry scotch, sweet sherry, medicinal eucalyptus, and spinachy nettle should have provided an interesting and complex drink. The bar seemed to be still working out the kinks.
Octopus, Potatoes, Olives, Pimenton
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-octopus”]The starter entree came out in a shallow crock bowl filled with large round chunks of tender octopus, pickled peppers, and sliced fingerling potatoes. The main ingredients sat over a peppery tomato sauce that added a proper level of spiciness and flavor to the octopus.
Salt Cod Fritters
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-salt-cod-fritters”]The fritters arrived as three crispy fried balls accompanied by a dollop of aioli and a leafy garnish sprig. The fried batter crust was light and the shredded cod filling was creamy and fresh. The lemony aioli paired well with the fish filling and crispy batter.
California White Bass, Fennel, Artichoke, Saffron
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-white-bass”]The pan seared white bass had succulent flesh and a slightly carbonized crust. The accompanied yellow saffron sauce and artichoke fennel puree blended well together and served to enhance the savoriness of the fish without dominating the dish’s flavor.
Grilled Asparagus, Romesco
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-asparagus”]The grilled asparagus, topped with romesco sauce, was tender and appropriately grilled. The sauce, which could have been slightly thinner, had a nutty texture, peppery tang and complemented the asparagus well.
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-albondigas”]The dish arrived with three plumped meatballs over a creamy aioli sauce. The meatballs were denser than expected but were both moist and flavorful. A noticeable spicy pepperoni flavor dominated the meat which was adequately tamed by the aioli.
Olive Oil Almond Cake, Rhubarb and Peach, Caramel
[maxgallery name=”the-commissary-olive-oil-almond-cake”]The olive oil almond cake was moist and had a mild sweetness. We couldn’t find the promised peaches and caramel but the sweetness from the dollop of cream and the fruity strawberry and rhubarb slices adequately complemented the light cake.
Overall [usr 4.0]
The Commissary is a smartly run restaurant which should be a success given it maintains its enthusiasm. The kitchen is organized, well lead, and seems to understand the notion that a dish’s main ingredients should be celebrated individually without the need for heavy sauces and an over use of salt and spices. Yes, there were some flaws, but we see these as small issues that should rectify over time. Overall, the passion and attention to detail reflected in each of the dishes made the relatively inexpensive $89 bill completely worth the experience. We’ll be back in the near future to see how things have progressed.