After our brunch at Table No. 1 I was even more excited to check out Jason Atherton’s another restaurant in Shanghai – The Commune Social. Now, visiting two restaurants by the same chef in one day might seem extreme, but I promise you it was not intentional. When I was picking dinner spot for our first night in Shanghai, The Commune Social seemed closest to the hotel. Tucked away in the trendy and bohemian French Concession District, Atherton’s “no reservations, no service charge” restaurant offers casual and laid-back atmosphere encouraging people to mingle and bond over great food and drinks. The vibe is reminiscent of an eatery rather than fine dining restaurant, although the food says otherwise.
The décor is industrial (reminding me of Little Serow in Washington D.C. – by the way, a must if you love spicy Norther Thai food) with open spaces, a cozy courtyard, exposed brick, subway tiles, wooden tables, and simple paper menus. It was such a pleasant place for leisurely summer dinner, we truly fell in love with it.
The menu consists of tapas – regular dishes as well as dinner specials – which allows you to order bunch of small platters to share and try a variety of food in one night. We started off with fantastic marinated olives which had delicious tartness to them. We also tried Iberico Bellota, thinly sliced iberico with buttery and nutty taste, served with toast, which was very good. I particularly enjoyed my choice of tartar, perfectly sliced meat with egg yolk, pickled mushrooms, toast and smoked fat dressing. The BBQ corn from the vegetable offerings was another stunner. It was perfectly cooked and had an addictive sweetness balanced out by the acidity of caper dressing and iberico cheese. The final main dish was a definite standout: fantastic grilled iberico pork – so juicy and flavorful – and foie gras sliders, served with avocado mayonnaise and pickled cucumber. It was delicate, yet hearty, with a light smokiness to the meat. The food is matched by some interesting cocktails too, with fruity concoctions such as mandarin strawberry punch, and spiced apple brandy.
At the end, we had just enough space left for the dessert. Menu included unique and enticing options like coffee panna cotta with mascarpone and chocolate brownie, lemon meringue with basil sorbet, and mango and olive oil cake and black olive caramel. However, one thing in particular called my name – beetroot chocolate cake with raspberries and beetroot sorbet. It was new, brave and simply put fantastic.
The flavor combination set fireworks in my palate. Along with the tiramisu I devoured at 8 1/5 Otto e Mezzo and french toast at Mr. and Mrs. Bund, this was most certainly my favorite dessert of the trip. I also realized I was too busy devouring my dessert and didn’t even notice how Justin polished off his one – lemon posset with white chocolate mousse and lavender. As you can see, presentation is not the key here. Instead, it’s the homey, comforting food that shines through.
Overall, we both tremendously enjoyed the night at The Commune Social. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone, and wish I could try their lunch and weekend brunch menus. Everything we tried was delicious and flavorful. Unlike Table No. 1, the service was great as well. The waiters were very attentive, responsive and friendly, trying to engage in conversation and feel you welcomed. So yes, if you find yourself in Shanghai, book a table!
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