so nearing Valentine's Day i posted a status update on facebook stating "someone please take me to Frances for a late v-day friend date!," which was pretty lame of me. and of course i never expected for anybody to take me up on that offer because 1) reservations to Frances at a decent hour are hard to come by, 2) it's not an inexpensive meal, and 3) nobody wants to take anybody on a date that asks for the date. what kinda crap is that? begging for anybody to take them on a nice dinner? so desperate. anyway, even though i am indeed the loser who posted that, i by no means truly expected it to come in to fruition. so that same minute that i typed that post, i nearly simultaneously went online to check reservations and coordinated with Kim to have dinner there at an absurdly early hour a couple of months from now.
but. BUT!! having read that post, a good friend of mine, Darrick, wanted to take me up on that offer. because i'd already made plans to go to Frances in a couple of months, we decided to have dinner at an equivalent type restaurant. i, of course, was not going to make him pay for my meal. instead we just went for a casual dinner amongst friends. as casual as a five course meal can get, anyway. this was Darrick's first time with "fine dining." exciting! we decided on Commonwealth because i've wanted to go since the day they opened. and they offer a 5 course dinner for $65 which isn't ridiculous (though for a normal thursday, it's pretty ridiculous even by my standards).
they start every table off with seaweed chips and a malt vinegar foam. seaweed chips aren't new to me because i've tried them in Thailand. Lays makes them!! but for anybody who hasn't had them before, i'm sure they're a fun take on your typical chips.
the amuse bouche was thinly sliced abalone with tapioca. i don't generally like abalone but this was actually really good. much better than any way i've had it prepared at chinese restaurants.
there were probably a million things on this tasting menu that Darrick had never tried. caviar, foie gras, rhubarb, sunchoke and venison were definitely new to him.
caviar with chips, egg mousse and potatoes. a lovely dish. the egg mousse was interesting. i don't know if i would have ever guessed it was egg if it wasn't written on the menu.
foie gras on brioche. my lord that was a big piece of foie for one person. so fatty and good. but almost a little too much for my liking. you can only have a few bites of foie gras before it becomes too much. i literally could feel my arteries screaming at me after completing the last bite. i much more prefer it in a pate form, but it was still good.
artichoke fritter with mashed sunchoke, quinoa and quail egg. whatever that black sauce is tasted super earthy in a good way. i thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of this dish.
venison with sweet potato mousse. the cylinder the mousse was contained in was light and crisp and different from any other version of that that i've had before. it's hard to describe, but it was outstanding.
blood orange sorbet
peanut butter bar with frozen popcorn. the "frozen popcorn" was really just very light frozen cream of some sort that was salty and tasted slightly like buttery popped kernals of corn. when eaten with the sweet peanut butter bar, it was incredibly complimenting.
overall, i had a really good experience at Commonwealth. my only complaint is that the server wasn't very versed in the menu. he said a few things that were inaccurate. oh well. i think Darrick enjoyed his experience too. now rather than wondering what the judges on Top Chef could possibly be tasting, he's got an understanding of it. i will definitely be back to try their a la carte menu. man, do i love food.