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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The picture above? It's chocolate covered foie gras. That pretty much says it all, and sums up my experience at fit-for-foodies Mission spot Commonwealth.

It was the opening number of the $60 6-course tasting menu ($10 goes to charity) which critics deem one of the best deals in town. I love chocolate and I love foie gras, but wasn’t won over by this rich combination (MFM was a fan), which was served with bits of apple, parmesan crostini and vanilla in a powdered form.

But it made a very interesting statement and set an exciting tone of things to come.

I was already quite taken by my drink - a cocktail of Floc de Gascogne (a fruity fortified wine), pomegranate, kaffir lime and liquid nitrogen that resembled a pale pink shaved ice (and was just as refreshing). It went nicely with the seaweed-sprinkled housemade potato chips that came with a light vinegar mousse.

Also tasty was a salad of radishes “in various forms” – artfully presented and offering a nice array of flavors and textures. And maybe it’s because I’m partial to uni, but my favorite dish was a light, delicate asparagus custard with uni, beech mushrooms, jalapenos and chorizo. It was delicious and not quite like anything I've had before.

In between, a few bites fell into limbo. I didn’t not like it, but didn’t love it either. Including the young hen with artichokes, pistachios and hedgehog mushrooms and the palate-cleansing blood orange sorbet with fennel soda (not shown). And for me, the Snicker Bar-like dessert (a chocolate ganache covered peanut butter semifreddo) bordered on too sweet, though the frozen "popcorn" and smear of caramel made it a lot more intriguing.

Food memories are kind of a funny bunch. Sometimes I'll leave a restaurant holding on to the lingering taste of a singular spectacular dish, and sometimes I’ll leave excited knowing that I’ve tasted something special in the one and only place that could serve it. My experience at Commonwealth falls into that second group, and for that I can say it was a $60 that was worth every penny, and then some.



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