We know that Common Bond Cafe & Bakery has perfected its pastries and sweets, such as the ever-popular kugelhopf, almond croissant, chocolate chip cookie and kouign amman. We also know that the Westheimer bakery offers an incredible lunch featuring seasonal sandwiches and mainstay items, such as the turkey confit with pesto, provolone, tomato preserves and arugula on a fresh-baked baguette. But, can Common Bond serve dinner?
On Monday, October 6, Common Bond stayed open much later than usual to serve its first pop-up dinner. The dinner sold out quickly as word traveled about the opportunity to feast on a five-course meal prepared by chef de cuisine David Morgan along with his team of sous chefs. Each course was served family-style, allowing you to dig in and share each dish with the rest of your table.
Although diners chose the time in which they would prefer to be seated, there was still a wait as patrons began to arrive. But, the opportunity to sip on a glass of complimentary Cava while you waited to be seated was not a disappointment.
The meal began with an amuse-bouche consisting of a paper-thin circle of sunflower rye toast topped with a thick, beautiful swirl of foie mousse and a bright, juicy cherry; the buttery, smooth foie mousse combined with the crunch from the crispy, nutty piece of toast and a burst of sweetness from the cherry created a fantastic bite to start the meal.
A tray of market vegetables in the form of a salad arrived shortly after our amuse-bouche. The plate was filled with roasted vegetables and some fruits: cauliflower, parsnip, green beans, fennel, radishes, zucchini, mushroom duxelles (finely chopped), salsify, beets, crispy dried apples and a beautiful sunchoke chip. No dressing was necessary; the dollop of pumpkin puree and barbecue smoked tomato puree added a creamy element to the dish and made everything so enticing; it also prepared your palate for the heartier courses ahead.
The third course featured a hot bowl filled with barchetta pasta (ravioli), pan-roasted oysters and cherry tomatoes swimming in a butter-based sauce all topped with a crispy herb crust. Each bite was buttery, comforting and simply delicious, but a forkful of cheesy ravioli, a tender oyster and near-bursting cherry tomato created a perfect bite.
The final savory course was the most anticipated. As we watched trays of pork shank leave the kitchen, we couldn't wait for ours to arrive. A man sitting at an adjacent table said, "That pork shank looks serious." And he wasn't kidding. Two giant, crispy, charred pork shanks arrived at our table shortly after the empty bowl of pan-roasted oysters left. Each was dressed with a vegetable ragu of diced mushrooms and roasted pearl onions, as well as black-eyed peas. There's no other word to describe this meat-centric course but as phenomenal. The top layer consisted of crispy, salty pork skin, and once you lifted those greasy, crunchy pieces off of the shank, you uncovered the tender, juicy pork. This is the kind of food you want a cold winter day; thank goodness we had enough left over to take home. Pork shank sandwich for lunch? Yes, please.
Even though our stomachs were full, we still had room for dessert; there's always room for dessert. Each table received a huge "apple pie" pot pie and a bowl of vanilla bean quark gelato. It's safe to say, this was an addicting treat. We broke open the pot pie shell revealing what seemed like a million flaky pastry layers and tender apple chunks. A scoop of tart vanilla gelato with a spoonful of warm sweet apples and buttery crust was the perfect ending to an incredible dinner.
As if the apple pie and gelato wasn't sweet enough, each guest received a gift bag with six different macarons as a thank you from Common Bond. Free macarons? Don't mind if I do.
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Overall, my experience having dinner at Common Bond was enjoyable and tasty. Hiccups in service, like a wait before being seated, slow service between courses and some confusion on which course should be served next were understandable and expected. The staff at Common Bond maintained composure throughout the night and made sure each guest was treated with the upmost respect and care.
So, Common Bond, with that said, please serve dinner on a regular basis. The food is too good to only serve once.