Set menus often scare me, conjuring up images of tired wedding function food or pre theatre express menus. There’s not many places where I want to lose control of picking the menu – but the Commoner I can trust.
Venture past the tired salsa clubs into 122 Johnston Street and you will be greeted into the cosiest restaurant you can expect to see outside of Europe.
It’s all about the small details – blackboards are scrawled with seasonal specials like quince and pears and tables are beautifully set amidst the candle light. There are even cuddly blankets on the sofas. The restaurant just oozes heart and charm. Even the china and cutlery sets have a personality and a story to tell. The staff waft around unobtrusively like willows in the wind, full of frivolity and positive energy.If the Commoner was a man I would marry it.
The outdoor area is equally charming, complete with a wood fire, flower arrangements and candle light.
The menu, designed to share, focuses on cherishing the finest of seasonal produce which is locally sourced (and mostly foraged for that matter!). With a modern British influence, the menu cleverly intertwines its heritage with a local Australian approach. Head Chef, Jake Kellie, takes pride on making everything on the site – ranging from the potato sourdough to the home made curd.
“I want to create honest food with a focus on technique. My approach is simple – to influence and develop the potential of classic meals celebrated here at The Commoner by incorporating the best of foraged, house-made, and fresh local ingredients. I want people to feel nourished by delicious food cooked with care and served without excess baggage” he says.
The a la carte menu is in a constant state of flux to reflect new food trends and the best of seasonal produce. For seven years, the Commoner have also celebrated the ‘Feed Me’ alternative. Originally limited to Sunday evenings, the set price Feed Me menu ($75pp) – made up of their favourite dishes – has proved so popular that they now offer it at every service.
If you are feeling indecisive this is the perfect choice….
A bowl of freshly shucked rock oysters resting on a bed of sea salt is the perfect start to the evening. Served with a wedge of lemon with and a splash of zesty mignonette, they are simply divine.
Next come the wild mushroom croquettes and the cheeky snapper, each blending together harmoniously like one happy family. Achieving the golden, crispy layer that croquettes aspire to, the sumptuous filling of creamy wild mushrooms does not disappoint. Wedged between two curly potato crisps, the cheeky snapper is also a treat – fresh and creamy and nicely textured.
The Commoner is proud of its house made curd and for good reason. Sometimes it is the simple pleasures that matter the most – and an exemplary example of this is the Commoner’s affectionately named Beautiful Beet Salad. The beetroot was beautifully cooked with a slightly earthy, sweet flavour. The creamy house made curd cut through the earthy tones of the beetroot beautifully, complemented further by an added touch of sweetness of the orange.
A pretty plate of cured kingfish and pickled onions was served in a shallow bath of whipped curd, with splashes of almost florescent verjuice. The thin slices of kingfish were silky smooth with a sweet citrus marinade.
Beef oyster blade, cooked medium, was cooked to perfection – its accompaniments, a smoked bone marrow and picked vegetables. Dutch cream potatoes, slathered with slippery jack butter, were beautifully seasoned and crisp with a creamy soft centre.
For dessert we were treated to beignets (french doughnuts) filled with stewed apple and rhubarb. The lemon sugar encrusted golden shell just being strong enough to hold the oozing filling within. The beignets themselves were as light and airy as fairies’ wings, unfortunately they were not served warm which was the only fault.
To finish – their famous Brown Ale pudding, an impossibly dense (almost black) pudding topped with burnt salted caramel. Boozy, moist and rich, this pudding was up there for one of the best I have had in a while.
The Commoner – you can feed me anytime you want to!
Approximately $100 per person including service charge and wine.