Dining Out: Commonwealth

I hate to say this, but Commonwealth restaurant and I are clearly not meant to be.

Let me explain.

On my first visit to the restaurant in January, I went with a friend and we had a fantastic three course meal complete with cocktails, appetizers, entrees and dessert. A few days later when I turned my camera back on, a message popped up that I'd never received before, "Camera disk is corrupted."

Ummmm.

After calling my smartest techie friend (it pays to know someone who used to work at the Apple Genius Bar) he told me that I could download recovery software and try to save the photos, but in all likelihood, they were gone.

Strike one.

Last month I revisited Commonwealth with a different friend and I was excited to retake the photos and maybe even try some new menu items. After drinks, appetizers and dinner, we were ready for some of Commonwealth's famous ice cream. Well, turns out our waiter failed to mention that there was bacon in the ice cream flavor we ordered. And we're both vegetarians.

Strike two.

Corrupted camera and bacon ice cream aside, there really is a lot to love about Commonwealth. Let me show you all the delicious things we ate before the surprise arrival of the bacon ice cream.

On my second visit, the sun was shining and Commonwealth's floor to ceiling windows were flooded with light.

Inside, the restaurant boasts unique decor, mostly made from wooden palettes.

The bulbs across the ceiling remind me of the strands of lights you see at outdoor weddings featured on Pinterest.

On my more recent visit, we were actually seated in the bar area. One of the bartenders came over to deliver us a cocktail menu.

On my first trip I'd had the cocktail at the top of the menu, the Hand Model. That drink is cranberry vodka, lemon oleo, combier, lime and a splash of bubbles. The drink is bright pink, how could I not love it?

The Hand Model doesn't have the boozy taste of a Cosmo, but instead goes down like juice.

Drinks in hand, it was time to peruse the dinner menu.

As we were looking over the choices, I asked the bartender if we could have some of Commonwealth's famous bread. If you go and your waiter or waitress doesn't bring this out, ask! The bread is served hot in a red cast iron pan. It is light, flaky and oh-so-buttery.

After her first bite of bread, my friend cooed, "This is magic bread. Thank god you asked for it."

For the first course, my dinner date began with the heirloom beet salad with blood orange, Moroccan black olives and ricotta salata.

When I asked what she thought of the dish, she replied, "First, I can so picture Giada De Laurentiis saying, 'ricotta salata' in that Italian accent she does. This salad was super delicious. It had the right amount of dressing, which tasted to me like a honey balsamic of some kind." I asked if she had a favorite component and she commented, "The best bites were the ones with ricotta salata and black olives. I liked the salty paired with the sweet beets."

To start, I went with the spinach salad. On my first visit, it was garnished with green apples. On this visit, the apple had been swapped for mango. The spinach and mango was joined by clothbound cheddar cheese and candied pecans.

I really loved the bright color of the mango. After the winter we had, I am drawn to anything that isn't white or gray. I normally think of the texture of mango as being tough and coarse, but this mango was very sweet and smooth. I loved all the tiny pieces of cheddar cheese, the sugary pecans and the fresh, leafy green spinach.

For our second course, we decided to share the macaroni and cheese. It arrived in giant cast iron pan, topped with bread crumbs.

For me, Commonwealth's rendition of the American classic is just too one note. I wound up shaking a ton of black pepper over my forkfuls.

On the list of side dishes, the beer battered fiddleheads caught our eye. We liked the taste of the batter and the crunch it gave to the green veggie, but there was no dipping sauce to accompany it. I would have killed for some ranch.

Though at this point we were quite full, I had such an amazing ice cream sundae on my first visit, I forced my dinner date to at least consider dessert.

The Commonwealth dessert menu is basically a make your own sundae bar. The ice cream flavors are always changing and they all have weird names, so you have to ask your server about at least five of them in order to make an informed decision.

The one that stood out to us was called "The Munchies" and the bartender told us it was packed with pretzels, potato chips and caramel. We were sold and ordered a scoop on top of the house made, warm, fudgy brownie.

We were each on our third bite of ice cream when my friend dropped her spoon and said, "I think there is bacon in this ice cream."

I was in shock. It threw me right back to the night I had dinner at Lord Hobo and there was bacon in our chocolate covered pretzels.

I was speechless. Thankfully my friend was more composed. She walked up to the bartender and politely asked if he had forgotten to tell us there was bacon in that flavor. His face turned white and he rushed over to apologize. He immediately took the plate away and said we should order whatever we want, he'll make it fresh right away.

Still shell shocked from our accidental ingestion of bacon, we decided to keep it simple - vanilla bean ice cream with caramel, a top the brownie.

On my first visit we had cookies & cream ice cream and we also got to taste a new flavor called Fatty Delight (which tasted like Almond Joy). Sadly, the vanilla didn't hold a candle to either of those.

With two visits to Commonwealth under my belt, my feeling on the place is that it's a little bit "Choose Your Own Adventure." Maybe they'll bring the magic bread, maybe they won't. Maybe there will be bacon in your ice cream, maybe there won't.

Despite the rocky nature of the first two visits, the cocktails are delicious, the veggies and salads are fresh as can be, and any place that focuses their dessert menu around sundaes is A-OK by me.

Have you ever been to Commonwealth? Do you have a go-to dish?

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Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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Address:
Commonwealth
11 Broad Canal Way
02142 Cambridge , MA
United States
Massachusetts US