John Tesar’s The Commissary Hosts Industry Preview

The One Arts Plaza patio of The Commissary. (Photo by Desirée Espada.)

The local chef groupies’ tongues are wagging so vigorously today that we can feel the breeze up here on the 21st floor. I, like they, attended the industry preview of The Commissary last night. Facebook and blogger reviews are already slathering on praise. Imagine what they’ll say when it actually opens.

jump for our thoughts and more pictures…

Given that the joint hasn’t officially hung out its shingle yet, writing any kind of review at this point, positive or negative, would be unfair. Instead, we’ll wait until next week to give it the attention it deserves. It would also be close to impossible for me to judge the food given that I had the opportunity to taste very little of it. Sliders, desserts, and assorted finger foods swirled around us during the hour I was there, but only once came within reach. Turns out, the local foodies had a strategy: hang out close to the kitchen and nab the food as it comes off the line.

Clearly, my gals and I had made a grave tactical error by sitting on the patio. We could see the waitresses and their trays circulating in the near distance, always  picked clean before making it to our area, no matter how much we pleaded with the servers to show us a little love on the next round. So, in an act of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,”  I got up and walked into the kitchen myself and grabbed a crab cake slider off a platter held by Mr. Tesar himself. I’m not proud of myself, but it was the only way I was going to get my hands on one.

John Tesar and his tasty (albeit messy) crab cake slider, a mini version of the future crab cake burger. (Photos by Desirée Espada.)

Cons: The crab cake was a little unwieldy in slider form and the mini-bun was toasted to the point of crumbling.

Pros: The part that made it into my mouth was darn tasty, even though I ended up wearing most of it.

Trust him; it's tasty. (Photo by Desirée Espada.)

Back outside on the patio, trays of wine and beer (the server had no idea what the wines were; the beer was Fireman’s No. 4), kept a-comin’. As we waited for a nibble, the most stylish of our group shared that she was initially turned away at the door by the 20-something hostess because she clearly “wasn’t industry.” Eh? True, she wasn’t wearing a pink fedora or a snakeskin jacket (both nearby), but she was far more relevant to the operation than many people there. (Sorry, I can divulge no more.) Still mulling over this culling process.

Finally, at the 60 minute mark, a server came by with the remains of a tray of gherkin-topped cheeseburger sliders. We snapped up them, as well as the entire accompanying container of fries, which were satisfyingly salty.

Mini bacon cheeseburgers. (Photo by Desirée Espada.)

Before heading home, we took a turn through the restaurant’s interior. A couple examples of Lucy Billingsley’s (John Tesar’s partner in the project) collection of gi-normous clocks from around the world hang above the bar and in the room housing the chef’s table. Side note: The private chef’s room was, by far, my favorite space with its modernist chandelier, slab table (also from Billingsley’s personal collection), and Tesar’s signature punchbowls.

Chef's table (left); Sonhui Pak and Kevin Gray (right). (Photos by Desirée Espada.)

But like I said, anything beyond observations at this point would be unfair. I’ll reserve judgment until I can order (and receive) full-size food off the menu next week. Good thing it’s so close to the office. I envision lunches around the patio fire pits. In the meantime, here are some more pics of last night’s show, party, preview:

The Commissary at the foot of One Arts (left); Greger Nilzen and Lesley Mutschink. (Photos by Desirée Espada.)
From left: L to R - Christine Ganaden, Toki Uchiyama, Pauline Lai, Vi Nguyen, Christina Rattanavong, and Caly Ngo. Mystery woman. (Photos by Desirée Espada.)
Tete-a-tete (left); DJ JT Donaldson. (Photos by Desirée Espada.)
Tesar in the hot zone. (Photo by Desirée Espada.)


  • happy guest

    The party last night was amazing,the kitchen and Chef Tesar whipped out food for over 4 hours for free. It was a cocktail party and not a menu tasting. As a random guest going to an open event one should be a little more appreciative of free food and wine and maybe move around a little and socialize not camp out and expect table waiter service at an event which was really just a gathering with over 300 guests. Isn’t the real criteria for a critic that they eat off the menu and pay for the food during business hours? The fact that you say that you shouldn’t but you do very cheesy. This place is going to ROCK so cool and so unique.

  • Elias

    Why must Tesar himself always comment on these blogs?

  • Jt

    You should know by now If I have something to say I will attach my name to it … And all I have to say is thank you to all of you that came last night and hope to see you all soon for some fun wine and food … Too busy getting ready for the real opening tomorrow night !

  • the_sneeb

    Best of luck, John. Place sounds great. Look forward to hopping back and forth between Tei An and The Commissary.

  • BT

    Agree with happy guest. There were plenty of people mingling and moving around at a social event…what a concept. I had no problems tasting the food or delicious drinks. Then again, I wasn’t sitting in a corner with an entitlement complex.