The popular Houston bakery and cafe has opened in our area… but with a twist. We go in to check it out.
We were excited by the announcement of Common Bond’s entrance to our area. In only a few years the bakery has gotten the reputation for turning out some of the city’s best pastries, and the cafe is a popular spot for couples and groups to grab a quick bite. Common Bond picked a location in nearby Springwoods Village (right next to the Exxon/Mobil campus). Street parking was fairly easy, and the interior of the cafe was inviting; bright, with well-spaced tables and lots of enticing baked goods on display behind glass.
Common Bond is trying something new at this location: The addition of a full bar. This will be accompanied by a new focus on happy hours; the cafe is well designed to accommodate groups of up to 20 or so. They’ve also introduced a bar menu with cravable bites that pair well with your choice of cocktail, wine, or beer.
Our first bite was an interesting one: Nashville Hot Shrimp.
The well cooked shrimp had their tails removed, and were nicely cooked. The spicy Nashville-style breading was fried to a crispy crunch; these shrimp were a satisfying start to the meal. They’d be an excellent snack at the bar with a cool summery cocktail.
Next we sampled the pepperoni flatbread. Interestingly, each slice of high quality pepperoni was topped with a jalepeño slice; the flavor profile swerved from Italian to the American Southwest.
The result was an interesting spin on a thin crust pepperoni pizza; the addition of the jalepeño flavor made for an unexpected bite. We enjoyed this dish more than we originally expected.
Next up was something I’ve never seen on an appetizer menu: Biscuits and jelly. The dense, compact biscuits had an herbal note and outstanding texture; these would make a southern grandma proud.
But the chef had a surprise up his sleeve: Jalepeño jelly. The jelly was a revelation; sweet and tangy, with only the lightest touch of heat. It was a delicious complement to the well-crafted biscuits. I don’t see passing up this very clever dish on future visits.
Common Bond has a full menu, and we decided to first explore the sandwiches. No one will be surprised that we had to try the Common Bond Burger.
This is a classic cheeseburger with a decidedly elevated twist: Texas beef with a gentle char, gruyère, comté, and bibb lettuce, dressed with dijonnaise, perched on a housemade pain de mie bun. The result was a burger with a subtle elegance; flavorful but not overpowering, tender in texture, and quite satisfying.
The next sandwich caught our eye, by combining two things we love: The Charcuterie Baguette. We’ve often bemoaned the lack of great Italian sandwiches around here, and looked forward to see what the chef had created.
A classic (and of course housemade) baguette impressed with the crunchy outside and pillowy soft interior. It was filled with prosciutto, cotto salami, pepperoni, baby arugula, red onions, and cornichons, creating a lively, savory sandwich. Dressed with garlic peppadew cream cheese; this petite Italian po boy was both satisfying and unusual.
Another dish that’s tough for us to pass up is Shrimp & Grits… but for a different reason. There are lots of renditions of this Southern favorite around here, and most are… lacking. How does Common Bond’s version stack up?
Their version features blackened gulf shrimp, which were deftly handled and did not overpower the dish. Cheese grits, creole sauce, cherry tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, and a herb salad completed the dish. The result was considerably more nuanced that is typical; layers of flavor from the shrimp and the creole sauce. Our only wish was for a bit more grits and a bit less sauce, but regardless this was a very successful version of the Southern classic.
Visting Common Bond without sampling the pastries would be a crime. So we tried a selection of the tempting options filling the glass cases you walk past on the way to order. We would have gladly sampled everything; their pastry case is both beautiful and enticling.
We’re big fans of Kouign Amann; the extremely labor-intensive French pastry that features thin layers of pastry dough, butter, sugar, and a touch of salt. And Common Bond’s is among the best. Dense, sweet but not cloying, buttery, with a light crunch and a remarkable texture, this is my benchmark for this queen of pastries.
The Spiced Pear and Earl Grey scone was simply delicious. The flavor of the spice and the pear were well balanced, and the delicate Earl Grey glaze provided a very British counterpoint. This is a sophisticated scone you won’t run across anywhere else.
The macarons were beautifully executed. Soft texture with a tiny bit of snap on the surface; these classic cookies are very easy to do poorly… but Common Bond does them well. Our examples were Red Velvet and Birthday Cake; the flavors were spot on and very good.
The final treat was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. A jewel-like Piña Colada.
This beautifully crafted bite began with a “coconut” shell made of milk chocolate. It contained a creamy coconut cream filling, and was topped with petite chunks of pineapple. The result was a deliciously rich chocolate / piña colada melange; we enjoyed every bit of it.
We also sampled a loaf of their Sunflower Rye bread.
This rustic loaf was surprisingly smooth and even inside, with whole sunflower seeds adding a touch of texture and flavor to a soft, mild rye bread. Again, the obvious skill of the bakers was on full display.
We were impressed by our first visit to Common Bond. For an establishment that had opened two days before our visit, they were executing extremely well; there were no significant bobbles that we observed. They are a great addition to our area, and a worthy destination for foodies looking for superlative pastries, a light lunch, or a savory dinner. We’ll be back.
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