Despite its name, The Common is anything but.
The new restaurant/bar at 36th and Market streets is spacious and peaceful, with a menu specializing in New American cuisine with Mediterranean influences.
At first glance it looks like an eatery geared more toward the nearby medical and educational professionals who need a calm place to refresh themselves while the activity and traffic of Market Street whizzes by at a steady clip.
But, The Common’s offerings cast a wide net — offers a delicate balance, both casual and refined — likely appealing to any neighborhood resident or passerby.
The duck-fat fried chicken wings ($12) are good place to start. Their perfectly fried pieces of chicken are tossed in a slightly sweet and rich glaze.
For a more garden-influenced farmhouse-style starter, go for the roasted mushrooms ($9). Served on a steaming farro risotto, the earthiness of the mushrooms are balanced by the pleasantly strong flavors of goat cheese and garlic.
The Mediterranean influence comes on strong with the grilled Spanish octopus ($12), a brilliantly colorful dish with spicy, bold flavors and hearty roasted potatoes.
Two sandwiches are offered as entrees, and we sampled one: the tempura shrimp sandwich ($13). Situated between toasted ciabatta buns, the crispy shrimp was an ideal textural foil to the sauce gribiche — a sort of egg salad masquerading as high-end tartar sauce that we didn’t know we needed until we tasted it.
The Common’s pastas are crafted in house, so we couldn’t pass on trying at least one. The spaghettini with spicy shrimp ($17) did not disappoint, delivering level upon level of assertive flavors. The bold sauce complimented the shrimp, mussels and clams that bolstered the dish, and the breadcrumbs gave the pasta a nearly perfect crunch.
If it’s uncommon comfort you seek, The Common is worth a visit.