Commonwealth – A Worthy Splurge

Food, What's New — By Mary Polizzotti on July 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm

“I want to lick this bowl.” commonwealth-san-francisco

“I want to eat this for breakfast every day,” I responded.

“This is probably what rich people eat for breakfast every day.”

Let it be noted that my friend and I were not actually eating breakfast. It was about 10 p.m. on a Friday night and we had both been staring in awe at the first course of the chef’s tasting menu at Commonwealth. In the bowl lay a delicate dome of icy goodness. It was such a perfect, pretty sphere that I was resistant to break it apart. What could possibly be inside?

It suddenly began to melt and I scooped up my first bite. Creamy, savory, sockeye salmon tartare with chiogga beets and sorrel melted across my tongue, punctuated by the icy, spicy, horseradish crème fraiche dome. We exchanged bewildered glances as the flavors hit us, and proceeded to ravenously gobble and scrape the bowl until there was absolutely nothing left.  If I ruled the world, I would request to eat this every day in a hammock chair from the balcony overlooking my vast dominion, like a Roman emperor atop Capitoline Hill, or like Gavin Newsom from his former Ashbury Heights home.

The tasting menu continued with summer squash chilled soup (“Is there weed in this?” my friend asked as we, once again, couldn’t peel our mouths away from our shiny spoons). There was corn custard with lobster, beech mushrooms, chorizo, and jalapeno. Veal cheeks followed. We finished off with a palate cleanser of apricot sorbet before receiving our final reward – a peanut butter semifreddo, chocolate ganache, and, get this, frozen popcorn. I would pay hundreds of dollars for that dessert, it was that good. Our love affair with the cuisine was apparently heard by our neighboring tables, one of which asked us “what are you guys having?”

Commonwealth is an intimate, progressive, American restaurant which undeniably deserves the acclaim it has received thus far. It’s not just the fabulous food or the impeccable wine pairings (the Cep Pinot Noir Rose from the Sonoma Coast was outstanding and won my accolades for its simple label design). It’s not only that they donate $10 of every tasting menu to local non-profits (which the Huffington Post recently recognized). What really won me over was that Commonwealth offered an unpretentious, fine dining experience with gracious, almost-perfect service. Our reservation was lost in the system (damn you OpenTable!) but without blinking, they offered to seat us within 30 minutes, on a Friday night, instead of pointing us to the door (outside of which resided a white, windowless van and a group of sketchy men motioning for us to join them inside – um, no thanks!). The staff was knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing. They also have knives that rest precariously on their thin edge – nice touch!

There are plenty of expensive restaurants to blow a paycheck at in San Francisco; Commonwealth is one I would return to without question.

commonwealth-sfPhoto courtesy of Jackson Solway

Top photo courtesy of Danielle Tsi

Middle photo courtesy of Commonwealth


Tags: "off the beaten path", best restaurants san francisco, commonwealth, Food, mission, progressive American cuisine, san francisco, san francisco dining, san francisco restaurants, splurge