A Luxury Lifestyle Website
By Doug Singer
In the heart of the West Village, in an almost hidden location, lies Commerce Restaurant. Located at 50 Commerce Street, in the same historic building that was once home to formidable favorites Blue Mill Tavern and Grange Hall, Commerce is a true haven for the culinary adventurer. This place has a history as rich as its food and the owners are committed to preserving that history. The building, erected in 1911, during prohibition, was a speakeasy which was fronted by a shoe store. You could walk in, give your shoe size and would then be allowed access to the bar in the back. The restaurant still carries with it that sense of “being in the know." This is a true New York eatery.
On a Wednesday night the restaurant was at full capacity and exhilarating upon entering. Bustling with hungry New Yorkers and trendy cocktailers, this place is dripping with ambiance. While admiring the gorgeous murals that took artist David Noel one year to complete and the restored 1941 art deco Brunswick bar, we indulged in some world class libations. The resident mixologist has created some extraordinary cocktails. My favorite was the Mulberry Spritz, a blend of Prosecco and Aperol.
As we were escorted through the busy dining room to our meticulously restored antique chestnut booth, it was becoming very apparent that owners Harold Moore and Tony Zazula (Montrachet) had gotten it just right. Chef Moore, previously of Jean Georges, Montrachet, Daniel and March (which earned him a Michelin star) fame has hit the nail on the head. They offer a contemporary American menu with Asian, French and Italian accents. It is interesting without being pretentious and is laced with approachable comfort food.
The meal started with a basket of warm, freshly baked pretzel rolls, olive bread, brioche and focaccia. Next came a salad of romaine hearts, vine ripened tomato, red onion and Oregon blue cheese and Mushroom Fontina Ravioli with sunchoke puree and a parmesan foam--a stunning beginning. The Roasted Sweet Potato Tortellonithat followed, laced with hazelnuts, pomegranate and buerre noisette was heavenly as was the Hamachi Ceviche with yuzu, tomato, chile and cilantro. The ceviche is not marinated in the citrus juices like most, which in my opinion can toughen the fish, rather it is dressed just before serving which allows the freshness and quality of the yellowtail to stand center stage. To wrap the appetizer portion of the meal, the hand-cut Steak Tartare with pickled ramps and horseradish crème fresh was exquisite as it danced on the palate with the sauvignon blanc served by the glass from the well endowed wine list.
Entrees include Red Snapper with roasted kabocha squash and charred scallions in a Thai inspired herb broth, Spaghetti Carbonarawith black pepper and coddled egg yolk and Classic Steak Diane with haricot verts and potato puree. Chef Moore has added a section to the menu called “Things to Share," These offerings range from the Porterhouse for Two to the Whole Roasted Chicken for Two. We indulged in the roasted chicken which was cooked to perfection and presented whole for our inspection before being sliced and served with a potato puree and foie gras bread stuffing.
The desserts as to be expected are delicious, abundant and ever changing. The Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler was refreshing and the Dark Chocolate Souffle with vanilla bean creme anglais was a chocolate paradise. Pair that with a glass of sparkling Moscato and you have some happy foodies.
Delicious, comfortable, exciting. What else could you possibly ask for? From the lovingly restored architectural details to the consistent culinary craftsmanship, the owners of Commerce are committed to excellence. Put this on your list!
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