Common Bond is open near the Woodlands, and it’s far more than just an outstanding bakery. We sample their Houston Restaurant Weeks dinner offerings. #HRW2020
After a wonderful first experience at Common Bond Bakery & Café, we were excited to learn that they were participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, the month-long food extravaganza created by the late Cleverley Stone. How would this brand new (open less than a month) restaurant do with the high pressure demands of HRW2020? We went in to check it out.
We were immediately drawn to the $35 dinner menu. At this prix fixe point, patrons choose from three courses, each with three options. This is a compact, well edited menu that provides great options without overwhelming the kitchen.
The first course consists of lighter options; salads, soups, and intriguingly… empanadas. So we did the logical thing and sampled one of each.
First up was the salad. Champagne Compressed Watermelon Salad was ritzy bite of summer; tender leaves of arugula, drizzled with balsamic provided a gently bitter balance, while creamy feta cheese and crushed marcona almonds provided textual and flavor undertones. This excellent summer salad was a hit all around.
Next we sampled something totally new: Smoked Sweet Potato Empanadas. Flaky crust was filled with a dollop of smoky sweet potato puree, and a deceptively sweet green tomato relish added a blast of brightness. A bed of rich avocado crema balanced the dish, and created an interesting and unique bite.
Our final first course choice was the Roasted Corn Chowder. A smooth, velvety mash of wood roasted corn was accented by small strips of applewood smoked bacon, sour cream, and cilantro. The resultant chowder was richly indulgent, texturally interesting, and extremely satisfying. This was our favorite option in the first course.
For the main dish, Common Bond has given us a broad range of options, featuring pork, beef, or fish. There’s something here to please just about anyone.
First up, Slow Braised Pork Shoulder. The hefty slab of patiently braised pork is accented with a complex, savory tomato ragout, served over soft polenta, and dressed with sautéed kale. This is a very well executed dish; the pork is supremely tender (cuts with a fork) but maintains a pleasing texture. This is a delicate balance, and few have it so well dialed in.
The penultimate entree was the Braised Beef Open Raviolo. This was an unusual preparation: Small bits of braised beef are formed into pucks, enrobed in sheets of pasta, then sauced with wild mushrooms, leeks, and red wine jus. Freshly shaved parmesan completes the dish. We enjoyed the flavor, but the unusual construction made it tough to get the perfect bite. Despite the challenge; we endured. Oh, the sacrifices we make for our readers.
The final main course was something lighter. Pan Seared Rainbow Trout. Two beautiful fillets are skillfully seared, then perched atop a mound of purple hull peas and swiss chard. A disc of tarragon shallot butter is perched precariously on top, ready to be schmeared across the warm, savory fish. The flavors melded delightfully; while on the lighter side, this dish was fully satisfying. We ate every bite.
Common Bond forged its reputation on its pastries and baked goods; no meal here is complete without dessert. For Houston Restaurant Weeks, you have a choice of three, and it is a difficult choice indeed.
Chocolate lovers will be drawn to the impressive Turtle Brownie. The formula: An expertly baked chocolate brownie is joined with caramel, chocolate ganache, and is crowned with toasted pecans. This sinful creation highlights the ability of Common Bond’s pastry team: Each layer of chocolate has a distinct flavor; combined they are truly outstanding. This is a don’t miss dessert if chocolate is in your wheelhouse.
The second option was one we’d sampled before… and we were happy to see again. The Tropical Coconut Entremet transports you oceanside on a Caribbean isle; it is a jewel-like reproduction of a piña colada… but no ordinary one. A complex coconut mousse (with pineapple, hints of yuzu and cardamom) is swirled into a chocolate shell that resembles a tiny coconut. Fresh poached pineapple is placed on top, and the result is a tropical dessert that doesn’t require a passport to enjoy. It’s light, fresh, and highly recommended.
The final dessert option is a European classic: Common Bond’s Macaron Trio. Three flawless, petite macarons, awaiting your consideration. Chocolate. Vanilla. Tiramisu. Each one delicate, delectable, and delightful.
Common Bond has done something nearly impossible: They’ve opened a new restaurant during the pandemic, trained their staff, and out of the gate are executing at a very high level. If this wasn’t challenge enough, they decided to participate in Houston Restaurant Weeks, and do their part to support the Houston Food Bank. Foodies looking for something different, well conceived, and well prepared should head over and sample this #HRW2020 menu before it’s gone. Come get in line… right behind us.
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