I love the whole concept of Jason Atherton’s The Commune Social (511 Jiangning Road; 江宁路511号)– a tapas, dessert and cocktail bar. The Commune Social has different rooms for each course so diners can choose their own fancy. When you first walk into the restaurant, there is a small room with a few tables that also directly face the dessert bar. As you keep wandering through toward the back of the restaurant, you’re greeted by a warm, open kitchen surrounded by eager diners. When I visited this past weekend, the weather was cold and rainy, but I could see the open terrace, which would be the perfect spot to enjoy a fruity beverage on a warm summer day. Upstairs on the second floor is a cocktail bar. I really like the idea that you could come to the The Commune Social and fulfill any one of your cravings– a well-crafted cocktail, delicious tapas or a scrumptious dessert.
There were so many interesting items on the menu and it was actually hard to decide what to get. My friend and I started our meal with the duck empanada with pan-seared foie gras and one of the specials of the day, tomato tartar. The duck empanada was a beautiful stuffed pastry, chalk-full of shredded duck and it was served on top of a sweet onion relish. I couldn’t help but salivate when I saw the foie gras, which is one of my favorite foods in the entire world. While the empanada was tasty, the foie gras really stole the show and I ended up just taking my time and enjoying every single bite with the sweet onion relish. The tomato tartar was not anything special, but I wanted something refreshing since it was raining outside. I enjoyed the medley of fresh tomatoes, but some of the cherry tomatoes were still too raw and not ready to eat.
For our main course, we ordered the suckling pig, which was served with a sherry dressing with roasted pineapple and peppers. The skin on the pig was so incredibly crispy that it was almost hard to cut through. The meat was tender and fatty, but I was really digging the creamy, mashed apple sauce. I liked how it was a play on pork chops and apple sauce. The dessert was the probably my favorite part of the meal. We ordered the peanut ice cream with red fruit and salted peanut caramel, which the waiter told us was the most popular dessert on the menu. While there was a cylinder of peanut butter ice cream, there were also these scoops of peanut butter mousse. When I scooped a small piece, I heard the instant crunch when my spoon touched the mound. It was like they took wafer cookies, mashed them up and mixed them with this wonderful peanut butter mousse. It almost crackled in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, but I loved this dessert. By mixing it with berries and a fruit sorbet, I felt like I was eating a fancy peanut butter and jelly dessert.
I definitely want to go back to The Commune Social again soon. I felt like I only tried a small snippet of their menu and there are so many dishes left to try. I’ve also heard really good things about their brunch. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations so it may be difficult to go with a large party. But if you and a friend are cool with sitting on stools for a relaxed meal, you’ll definitely be rewarded with a delicious meal. Just don’t forget to leave room for dessert!