Commis operates from a space of fluid ambiguity. It’s not quite a cocktail bar, a wine bar nor a restaurant. It could be any of those things, but for owners Daniel Docherty, Gabriel de Melo Freire and Adina Weinstein (all ex-Gerald’s Bar), what’s important is that Commis is what you want it to be.
Here, the trio takes pride in working on the floor. For de Melo Freire, who looks after the kitchen, the food is all about using the freshest produce from Victorian companies like Day’s Walk Farm and Two Hands Fish. The ever-changing menu is approachable, creative and unbound by any one cuisine. Think venison osso buco, kangaroo tail croquettes, or cotechino risotto with smoked carrots. The single mainstay is the staff meal. What’s left of the cook up for staff lunch each day can be ordered by diners in a sign of respect to the staff, the industry and the food itself.
On one side, the playful wine list is presented traditionally, by texture and variety. But flip it around for the “Expressionist” version – a tongue-in-cheek reordering of the same menu (with some extra left-of-centre options) under headings like Tom Hanks for crowd-pleasing drops and Slap Me in the Face and Make Me Feel Something for intense wines like Domaine Rolet vin jaune or Johann Michel Cornas syrah.
Cocktails include the Cookie Monster, a combo of cookie vodka milk punch, cacao and Marionette curacao; “Butter Beer”, with dark rum, Spanish Licor 43, milk stout and butter, served warm; and an option called Jessica Hates Everything, which is the team’s way of encouraging guests to tell them what drinks they like and trust them to create something new.
It’s these considered touches – including plates delivered to the table by the chef – that create little openings for dialogue between patrons and staff, inviting a sense of intimacy and comfort.
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