A few short weeks ago, when the sun was shining brightly (despite the fact that it's technically spring, the sunshine is still a bit of a rarity in these parts), I met up with Ashley at a cozy little tavern in the heart of Roscoe Village. As she mentioned in her post, she was slightly perplexed by the choice of venue - while we're always up for trying new foods, neither of us are really what you would call sports bar people. However, as we quickly discovered, Commonwealth Tavern is way more than your average sports bar; it's a culinary gem that is serving up surprisingly innovative and delicious dishes that go far beyond your standard pub fare.
While we had poured over the menu before our lunch date (as any good blogger would do), we quickly realized we actually had no idea just how foodie-friendly of a place it really is. The space itself is what you would expect of any good neighborhood sports bar (TVs in abundance, sports memorabilia adorning the walls) with a few cool extra touches, such as the mahogany bar made from reclaimed wood taken from a local bowling alley. However, the space is the only part of Commonwealth that I would associate with other typical Chicago-area pubs. The kitchen is cranking out dishes that are most definitely worthy of notice, particularly their semi-secret off menu burger. The menu is really what ensures that Commonwealth stands out from the rest of the pack.
All of my friends are all avid cocktail aficionados (and a damn fun bunch!), so of course we had to start out by sampling a few of Commonwealth's specialty drinks. I went with the Marching Orders cocktail: Hendrick's gin, basil, grapefruit, lime & soda. *Whew* this baby was smooth, strong, and seriously addictive!
Ashley chose the Commonwealth Smash: whiskey, blackberries, mint & lemon over crushed ice. I sampled a few sips of her drink and almost fell off my chair - this grown up boozy fruit juice is definitely not for the faint of heart!
Kale Salad with apples, crispy lentils, radishes & tahini sauce. Our first appetizer set the tone for our foodie-tastic meal - we were both blown away by this salad! I know what you're thinking... a kale salad? Really?! Yes, really! This isn't your garden variety sad, soggy kale. The kale is crisp and the addition of the crunchy lentils & rich tahini sauce perfectly complements the greens. I had recently declared to Mario that I was so over kale - this salad single-handedly brought kale right back into my favor.
Mexican-Style Burrata. The burrata is typically served with peperonata, basil, and pizza oil, but it just to happened that they were out of a few ingredients that day, so the chef improvised and prepared a special version for us. As delicious as the menu version sounds, I can't imagine that it's any better than this (but realistically, I'm sure it's just as fabulous). The spicy peppers and oil added the perfect amount of heat to the mellow, creamy cheese. We gobbled up every bite of this delicious little dish!
Off Menu Burger: 70% brisket & 30% bacon burger, topped with tavern sauce, bread ‘n butter pickles & fried onions on a buttery New England bun. I knew the moment our waitress told us about this semi-secret burger that I just had to try it - partially because it's not something you can get unless you've heard about it, but also because her blatant partiality and enthusiasm (even my non-red meat eatin' friend was drooling over the description!). All ingredients are made in-house, minus the the bread (which they source from Red Hen) and the effort that's put into this delicious burger really shows.
There's only one restriction when it's comes to ordering this special burger: no modifications. Typically, I would order my burger sans onions and pickles (I'm more of a burger/cheese/lettuce girl), but I'm so glad I didn't (not that I could have anyway!). The sweet, vinegary pickles were the perfect addition to this dense, meaty burger. Now that you know about this fabulous secret burger, there's no excuse for you not to order it... just balance it out with some yummy kale! ;-)
Spinach Falafel served on pita with tzatziki, cucumbers, piparra pepper, feta, pickled onion & mint. To balance out the meat-fest happening on the other side of the table, Ashley ordered our server's favorite vegetarian sandwich. The Mediterranean-inspired sandwich had a lovely flavor (who doesn't love that feta/cucumber/mint combo?!), but it was the texture of the falafel that really made this dish stand out. The crispy on the outside/super moist on the inside falafel had Ashley practically moaning in delight (she's on a mission to eradicate sad vegetarian sandwiches).
Commonwealth has a variety of daily food and drink specials (Charcuterie Plate Mondays), as well as special events (Wine, Dine and Design Thursdays, Euchre Tuesdays, and Trivia Wednesdays).
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Commonwealth Tavern: 2000 W. Roscoe St., Chicago, IL.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.