A restaurant I recently took Sam, a food-obsessed friend, to was Commonwealth in the Mission area. The tasting menu is very reasonable at $65 (and the foie gras bon bon is on Alan Richman's best of SF list ). However, even a la carte you won't be disappointed: the sea urchin and the coffee braised beef cheeks are incredible. The service was warm, the staff truly knowledgeable as well as sincere and above all the food was exceptional.
The arancini on a schmer of lettuce cream was slightly crisp and contained a silky center of truffle cheese. The sea urchin stole the show. It was unctuous and powerful served crostini style with ginger, kimchee, cauliflower and wild greens on a seaweed brioche. We followed these small plates with cubes of duck confit with delicate squash agnoletti, savoy cabbage and sweet young turnips with a refined star anise broth. Coffee rubbed beef cheeks were a close runner up to the urchin. The meat melts in your mouth with the luxurious beet-horseradish gemolata that accompanied it. Somehow an Alexander Valley, CA carignan was able to get me through this complete meal. Given the complexity of the flavors it's hard to pair a single glass of wine to a meal, but this carignan was rather versatile. Dessert was a rich peanut and chocolate semifreddo bar with texturally-impressive frozen popcorn that was marshmellow-like, which capped the meal perfectly.
The way the staff welcomed and guided us through their wines and dishes was generous and charming. It's delightful to dine somewhere that loves its customers.
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