Review: Commonwealth dazzles with flawless luxury dining | Restaurant Reviews | St Louis | News and Events in St. Louis

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Mabel Suen

Sous Chef Sierra Eaves and Executive Chef Scottie Corrigan are doubling down on the fine dining offerings at Commonwealth.

It takes four days to make Commonwealth’s Starry Night dessert – 96 hours of painstaking, technical work and patient waiting where even the smallest detail goes wrong, the whole thing falls apart. If all goes well, this effort will result in a stunning, spherical mirror cake that shimmers with shades of metallic deep blue and violet, so reflective you can see the contours of your face in it. Tapped with just the right amount of force, the glistening chocolate domed shell bursts, the cracks revealing a luxurious chocolate cake with the texture of a brownie taken out of the oven a few minutes early. Silken chocolate crème patisserie and blueberry compote coat and fill the inner cake; this blend forms a bittersweet filling with just a hint of flavor that will leave you feeling like you are eating a unique piece of delicious culinary art.

The Starry Night may be the Commonwealth’s showstopper dessert, but more importantly, it captures the approach Chef Scottie Corrigan takes to the five-month-old culinary gem of the Angad Arts Hotel in Grand Centre. Since joining the property last April, Corrigan — along with his sous chef Sierra Eaves — has doubled down on classic fine dining, a segment of the hospitality industry whose obituary has been written over and over over the course of the pandemic. Unashamed of what he offers, the rigorous demands he places on his team of true believers and his refusal to change the way he approaches fine dining, even in the face of outside forces, Corrigan believes Commonwealth (634 Grand Boulevard North, 314-405-3399) should stand as a timeless yet innovative beacon of great food that endures, rather than bends, the challenges of the moment.

Corrigan’s vision is bold, which is exactly what the Angad’s owners were looking for when they called him in to refurbish the hotel’s former restaurant, Grand Tavern. Originally founded by David Burke when the Angad first opened in 2018, the restaurant generated a lot of buzz for the celebrity chef’s namesake, but it never lived up to the hype. The hotel and Burke ended their partnership in early 2020; then it happened in March of that year and the Angad just kept the ship as afloat as possible, dampening the greater ambitions for sheer survival as the property struggled and the surrounding theater district supporting the eateries went dark.

With the rest of the world focused on the promise of Hot Vax Summer 1.0, the owners of the Angad had their eyes set on revamping their dining options. The hotel’s executive chef Matt Birkenmeier, who oversaw all of the property’s food and drink, enlisted Corrigan to lead the way in bringing the owners’ ambitious vision to life: a European-influenced restaurant. through the flavors of the many countries that make up the British Commonwealth. After several months of development, the newly minted Commonwealth was opened last October; However, it didn’t take long for Corrigan and his company to realize that having such an extensive and disparate organizational principle—and a highly charged principle—wasn’t the best idea. After a few months, he and his team rejected the British Commonwealth concept and reduced their idea to a more classically European focus.

click to enlarge Cast iron scallops are served with carrot puree, stewed leeks, mushrooms, bacon and charred lemon buerre blanc.  - MABEL SUEN

Mabel Suen

Cast iron scallops are served with carrot puree, stewed leeks, mushrooms, bacon and charred lemon buerre blanc.

Corrigan seems pleased to have shaken off the initial vision, and while he and his team view the restaurant as European, he sees it as more rooted in the French techniques and cooking style instilled in him at culinary school rather than a set. of certain dishes. This gives it a solid foundation to deliver such classics as a luscious camembert appetizer baked in a puff pastry so flaky that the buttery layers melt on the tongue. Sticky fig jam and honey, classic preparation accessories, cutting through the richness of the cheese and Marcona almonds add texture to this quintessential dish.

More often than not, however, Corrigan and his team show that they take classic dishes and techniques as a foundation and then build on them in more innovative ways. Instead of the traditional French mussel preparation of white wine and shallots, the Commonwealth version embraces Southeast Asian flavors of mild curry and fragrant lemongrass that perfume the delicate tomato stock. The first course of pork also teases a Persian and South Asian inflection; the luscious flesh—cooked so perfectly you could butter a biscuit—is encrusted with cardamom and fennel seeds and cuts through the fatty flesh with perfumed spices, and pomegranate mousse gilds the belly with a deep, subtly sweet-sour flavor.

There’s nothing subtle about the honey jalapeño bisque’s punch. The soup has a delicate viscosity, but that light texture hides a hint of spice that creeps up about five seconds after the first bite and then continues to illuminate the palate with fiery heat. The honey is less there to soften spices than to add a small dose of sweetness to balance the vegetable heat. It’s a brilliant interplay of flavours.

click to enlarge The Commonwealth bar program exudes the same creativity as the food menu.  - MABEL SUEN

Mabel Suen

The Commonwealth bar program exudes the same creativity as the food menu.

Commonwealth entrees are not defined by any particular cuisine style, but rather by their common thread: cooking to perfection. Tandoori duck breast is an interrogatively named entry; the bird is not cooked in a traditional clay oven and has no apparent spice profile associated with the Punjabi dish. However, if you put that aside and enjoy it for what it is, you’ll be delighted to see several cuts of duck cooked to such a wonderful medium rare that they could be an encyclopedia entry for duck cooking. The succulent poultry is accented with dried apricots, cocoa “earth” and black lime pistachio; the combination of chocolate and stone fruit adds depth to the duck, although the succulent meat is so wonderful on its own, it could have been served unadorned and would still impress.

Cast iron baked scallops were equally well prepared – buttery inside with a crispy, golden outside. Anise-scented carrots and stewed leeks are subtle accents, while bacon infuses the accompanying charred lemon beurre blanc with smoke and salt. Another perfectly cooked entree, the beef rib, falls apart with barely the suggestion of a fork-prick; I believe there was a blueberry reduction and celery mashed potatoes on the plate, but I was so captivated by the rib that all else failed.

Really, that short rib encapsulates Commonwealth’s overarching strength: The kitchen is so good at cooking that, despite all the other bells and whistles on the plate, the technicalities stand out as the star of the show. It will be exciting to see what Corrigan, Eaves and their team continue to create now that they are freed from the constraints of the restaurant’s original concept. As they have proven with their signature dessert and cooking skills, the sky is the limit.

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