Low-key atmosphere, fun trivia nights and reasonable prices: Those have not changed at Allston's Common Ground. An interior revamp a year or so ago left the place looking smarter and ready for new owner Bob O'Guin. As a former GM for nearby Privus and The Kells, O'Guin knows the Allston scene well. He's clearly aware that expectations in drinking and dining have shifted beyond cheap cheer, too: Common Ground is now a place to plan to go to eat, not just drink. Though do that, too: microbrews (Clown Shoes, Arrogant Bastard) and cocktails are joined by low-priced, decent wines ($19-$35), including an organic Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes, organic.
The menu still reads casual, but under chef Marco Suarez (The Fireplace, Casablanca) much is made in-house, from a fabulous, light feta and eggplant dip to creamy strawberry ice cream. That, and small details like chunks of crisped bacon that top the deviled eggs (creating the perfect bar nibble), make huge differences.
The fish and chips have that wonderful fresh cod smell, the pressed portabella and mozzarella sandwich is luscious, and the golden beet and feta salad has a maple vinaigrette that doesn't drown the fresh leaves.
With Common Ground's familiar windows thrown open wide, merging bar with street life, or sitting on the rear patio, summer nights in Allston just got tastier.