We have previously stated that Commonwealth restaurant in the Mission is one of our favorite places to eat, and we try to return as often as we can. Chef Jason Fox and his crew continue to provide amazing Modern American food at very reasonable prices where most dishes are priced between $12-$16. With 4 of us dining there recently, we literally took a meaning of “commonwealth” and put it into practice. United by our love of excellent food, we decided to order one of everything off of their a la carte menu and share all of the various dishes. 11 dishes were available on the menu that day which made this unusual order seem feasible.
Before you even order, a warm bowl of kombu dusted potato chips with a malt vinegar espuma is placed on the table. This was a particularly great bowl with large chips perfectly fried:
We were served 2 different amuse bouche plates to whet our appetites. The first one featured a manila clam with bits of chorizo and chervil (below), and the second one was a rich cauliflower velouté served in an espresso cup (not shown):
The oyster poached in its own shell has been on their menu for awhile, but we are always happy to order it. The excellent oysters were served with tempura, various seaweed items and tapioca pearls. The horseradish buttermilk dressing tied the entire dish together:
The poached apple and chicory salad was served with lardo, pickled mustard seeds and rosemary crackers filled with beer and cheddar cream. This was a very good combination that highlighted the sweetness of the apples with the slight bitterness and crunch of the treviso greens. The lardo added flavor and a velvety texture:
The uni dish is another item we are always happy to get. The sea urchin was served with trout roe, mashed potato, gem lettuce, purple mizuna, translucent crispy corn crackers, lime cream and pickled wasabi leaves:
Beets in different textures featured the root roasted, shaved, raw greens and as a unique marshmallow. This version featured a bit of fromage blanc that was similar in texture to the marshmallow. The pumpernickel “dirt” added more crunch and sweetness, whereas the sorrel and smoked hay oil added earthy flavors:
A variation of the Japanese chawan mushi featured a douglas fir flavored custard topped with matsutake mushrooms, puffed black rice, shaved turnips in a light yuzu dressing:
They were actually out of one of the items on their a la carte menu: the pumpkin dish. It was too bad since were looking forward to eating the slow cooked egg with crispy kale chips that went along with it. However, our disappointment was very short-lived as the kitchen sent out the butter poached spot prawns from their prixe-fixe menu. We almost ordered the tasting menu for this dish alone, so it was a very pleasant surprise. Each tender prawn rested on cauliflower puree, and dots of vadouvan and hibiscus sauce added some spice. Prawn chips and sunflower seeds added some textural crunch to this overall tasty dish:
The butter poached sturgeon was served with fried Jerusalem artichoke and a milky whey sauce. Brassica vegetables were well represented on the plate by cabbage steamed in oyster shells and thin slices of kohlrabi:
A young hen roulade came with carrots roasted over kombu, puffed barley and micro pea sprouts. The seaweed pesto artfully brushed on the side of the plate added a dramatic effect in addition to more umami flavor:
The mussels were cedar grilled adding a pleasant light smoky flavor. Pork belly, celery root, a saffron sauce and a cured egg accompanied the shelled mussels. A microwaved airy broccoli bread pudding added beautiful color and flavor to the plate:
The corned beef tongue came with brussel sprouts, white beans, thin rye crackers and a fried quail egg. A scallop emulsion was playfully painted on the plate to look like a tongue. Taking a bite of everything together tasted just like a great corned beef sandwich:
The last dish featured a grilled lamb breast served with bits of pine nut panna cotta and dates. Thinly shaved cauliflower “trees” and florets decorated the plate and the green chard jus added an earthy look and flavor to this dish:
Regarding drinks, we started with a bottle of Wagner Stempel 2006 Sylvaner Trocken white wine to pair with early dishes and drank a domestic Santa Barbara Côte-Rôtie red wine to pair with the rest of the meal.
After 11+ courses, we were all too full to order any dessert. The petite fours plate with house-made chocolate truffles and brittle was the perfect way to end the evening:
Ordering the entire a la carte menu was a unique opportunity that we could rarely experience. It was only possible because of the length and breadth of Commonwealth’s menu and the willingness of our dining partners to participate in this experiment. It was really a great way to try out all of the different items from the kitchen.
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