I really like the Commoner. Mr M and I first visited midway through last year (pre-blog!), when I was in the throes of wedding planning. After having my hair and make-up trial for the big day, I decided we should at least go out somewhere, so that the effort was not wasted (although formal hair and make-up combined with jeans is probably not a good look in any event). We arrived on a freezing, windy and dark Saturday night to this little oasis of warmth, comfort and hospitality.
I’ve since returned a couple of times, including in about May this year. I actually took photos of that meal with the intention of blogging it, but the dim light coupled with a crappy camera meant that the photos did not do the food justice at all. In fact, the photos made a great meal look completely unappealing.
Most recently I visited with my mother and friends T & P, to celebrate P’s 30th.
You can choose to order a la carte, but my money has and always will be with the ‘feed me’ option. For $55 they will bring you a range of things to share, including sweets. Just tell them any likes or dislikes (or wheat intolerance!) and the food will magically appear. Too easy.
Our starters arrived – from the top, Boccerones (Sicilian white anchovies with sweet pepper, aioli & parsley), French breakfast radishes with dill butter, roasted cauliflower with almonds and coriander, dip and Mt Zero olives (not pictured):
I do love a breakfast radish – their crunch and sweet, mild flavour. The cauliflower also went down very well, it had a great smokey-ness to it, due to the fact that they wood-smoked it in house (well, in the courtyard out back). The mild flavour of the white anchovies worked well with the garlicky aioli and smokey sweet pepper. Yes.
On to the larger courses, the wheat eaters amongst us (ie. the rest of the table other than me), tucked into pan fried semolina gnocchi with manchego and zucchini:
(it looked so good)
… while I enjoyed a play on a Caesar salad, with crisp fried quail egg, porky goodness, aioli and paprika:
The larger main dishes arrived, veal chop with Gentleman’s Club relish, char grilled fish and a side salad of radish and heart of palm:
Gentleman’s Club relish! I loved the idea that there could be a relish that was so manly it was not suitable for the ladies. This spiced anchovy butter ensured that my burgeoning love affair with anchovy continued unabated (Mr M is very pleased). The veal was very tender and also had a lovely smokey-ness to it. The simple char-grilled fish worked well with the fresh and crunchy radish and heart of palm salad.
Dessert arrived – Middle Eastern yoghurt cake (wheat-free!) with pistachio and pomegranate and vanilla ice-cream with poached rhubarb:
The yoghurt cake was really surprising – very light and airy. It was nice with the crunchy slivers of pistachio and pop of sourness from the pomegranate. As to the other dessert, poached rhubarb is a favourite of mine, so this was always going to be a winner for me.
On the dessert front I should also mention that the Commoner does amazing beignets – warm, little balls of pastry with a crunchy outer and a light, airy inner. These are unfortunately something I can’t eat due to the wheat factor, but every time my eating companions have had them there is a hush over the table and talk of the deliciousness. You have been warned.
So all in all, another lovely meal at the Commoner. Great food, a space that is comfortable, relaxed and understated with friendly knowledgeable service. I’ll be back again soon.
122 Johnston St, Fitzroy
Ph: (03) 9415 6876