GOB_Commonwealth_0109 Derek Kouyoumjian // derekimage.com

Opened this November in Kendall Square, Commonwealth is a restaurant, café, bar and market that sells handmade jams and pickles, in-house baked goods, including bread, and the same locally grown produce that’s used in the kitchen.

DSC_5395 Derek Kouyoumjian // derekimage.com

Contrary to that huge catchall, what makes it all work is simplicity. That’s something that drives the design, too: no clutter or tchochtkes here. A huge reclaimed metal fire door and metal and wood chairs from a school in Belgium -— scribblings and other etchings are clearly visible (one chair boasts a crude drawing, possibly inspired by a biology class) — adds old stories to the modern room, which is marked by slatted palette wood walling that cleverly deflects light.

 

Echoing the current trends of local, sustainable and seasonal, the menu is equally succinct. There’s an array of salad starters and in-house made pasta, including a richly flavored faro fusilli with oxtail and black trumpet mushrooms that is brightened by a touch of basil. The raw bar features wonderful local oysters like fruity, full flavored Rocky Nook from Eastham and an oyster Po’ Boy, which makes for a tasty bar snack.

Derek Kouyoumjian // derekimage.com Derek Kouyoumjian // derekimage.com

Entrees are build-your-own protein dishes: braised short rib from Pineland Farm, a Vermont quail, local swordfish or monkfish, with a kaleidoscopic array of sides like sweet Purple Haze carrots, earthy “Tokyo” turnips, creamy polenta or crispy risotto cakes.

Dessert includes pastries from the market or homemade ice cream, which you can choose to dress up with toppings or create a float or sandwich. The cinnamon and honey, made with local honey, needs no such embellishment. The ice cream pricing is a little off, though. Charge is per scoop and per topping, meaning a tiny one-scoop sundae runs you $12. That will likely be adjusted, we’re told. Still, from the George Howell single estate direct trade coffee, to daily changing meals-to-go, to local farm milk and yogurt, and fresh fruit and vegetables, Commonwealth nails neo-urban eating.

If you go

Commonwealth
11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge
Entrees: $29--$35
617-945-7030
commonwealthcambridge.com

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