I guess to a degree there is a natural ceiling. At the end of the day after all, Commonwealth Gastropub is still an English Pub. Given all the stereotypes, I do not blame you, intrepid reader, for giggling at my attempts to find beauty culinarily in British cooking, but hey, there you go. I guess this is a long, verbose way of saying that – I was not blown away, but it is very likely the best you are going to do in the land of pub grub.
Now, my understanding is that the Gastropub concept is to take the normal English Pub but shift the script towards the food. They had some innovative daily specials, including a scallops with fennel cream over faro, that one of my dinner-mates had. Another, of course had chicken tikka – which proved that this is British cuisine after all. The environment at Commonwealth is your usual deep woods color and decorwise – quite archetypal for the cuisine. I started with a Gin cocktail which was Gin with a basil-cucumber infused syrup. This was delcious. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough to take the edge off.
For the appetizer, we ordered the cheese board – Stilton, Cheddar, Manchego (all good) and a washed rind cheese which stunk so much that it was hard to get past. I wish I could convey it adequately, but let’s just say … ick. Now with the exotic gastropub choices that were there, I decided to go with more blocking and tackling – ordering their Bangers and Mash which was a Cumberland Sausage with Onion Gravy over mashed potatoes. This was excellent. The sausage had a good flavor without being too leaden – the potatoes and gravy accented it well. I mean there is only so much culinary brilliance once can glean from bangers and mash, but they do it.
Overall the meal was good – I have no complaints. It was solid. But the cost was a bit high. 40 bucks a person is significant (yes a couple of cocktails with it), and a bit high for the pub. Commonwealth is decidedly better than your average pub. But I am not sure if it is quite enough to justify the price point.