While I had dined at the Hotel Monaco’s restaurant The Commoner before, it was only for brunch so I was anxious to try out its dinner menu as I liked its selections a lot more.
We had concert tickets that night and even with an early reservation, the place was crowded and noisy. (The Hotel Monaco still seems to be the “hip” place in Pittsburgh, even though I’m not a fan of its location, slightly removed from the Cultural District.)
To get the evening started, I ordered the Pink Lady Cocktail ($10). This consists of gin, lemon, apple brandy, simple syrup, and an egg white. I can thank the Peruvian cocktail Pisco Sour for getting me hooked on having egg whites in my cocktails, an odd sounding ingredient, but one that works.
One thing I like about the menu is how it’s divided. It consists of nibbles (small bites, aka appetizers), grave (slightly larger bites), wood oven (self-explanatory), feed (main courses), and share (sides). I like places that attempt to be slightly different in how they bill themselves.
For our appetizer, we split one that I had been eyeing ever since I first started perusing the menu. We went with the Scotch Egg ($8) which is a soft poached egg, wrapped in a bed of duck sausage, and swimming in a pool of smoked creole sauce. As our waiter joked, he just likes to eat the sauce like soup (i.e. it’s that delicious). But the whole dish was excellent, especially the extremely tender sausage.
For my main course, I opted for the Flatbread ($14) which is topped with a date and shallot puree, smoked bacon, chevre, and balsamic reduction (I requested it sans arugula). While a smaller sized entrée compared to some, this was honestly the perfect size dish for me (I didn’t get any leftovers boxed up) and you can never go wrong with a dish that features bacon and goat cheese.
D ordered the Shepherd’s Pie ($18) for his entrée. It’s a standard dish as you go and features ground lamb, peas, carrots, savory gravy, and whipped potato. I had some of the potatoes and they were excellent, the epitome of comfort food.
As he’s obsessed with them and since it was on the menu, we also split a side of the Brussels and Bacon ($9). This is a massive portion of the vegetable so many people loathe with a fevered passion, but when topped with bacon and lemon zest, I think anyone would gladly eat them up.
And of course one must leave room for dessert when trying out a new restaurant. While it was a semi-hard decision, we went with the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($10). Although the idea of steamed date cake (I just don’t care for dates) didn’t sound the most appealing, at least on paper, when mixed in with toffee sauce and topped with rye vanilla ice cream, obviously I was able to be persuaded otherwise.
Minus the noise levels (you’re never going to get a quiet, intimate meal here, it’s too hip), all in all I really enjoyed my dinner experience at the Commoner. Service was great and the food even better.