I'd walked past The Commons a few times and had always been intrigued by it's pretty courtyard and nice looking menu, so after being turned away from a packed out smaller bar in an unsuspecting alleyway of Oxford Street (at 8pm the hour long wait for a table was too tortourous), we decided to satisfy my curiosity with a visit there. This place is definitely a bar for groups; the long wooden tables lit up by candles were full of French tourists sharing wine, groups of guys drinking beers and plenty of chicks stumbling up the stairs from the downstairs bar. After about 15 minutes of being ignored by the rather sweaty and pissed off maître d', we finally ordered some wine and got a plate of sourdough bread, olives and olive oil ($7). This was probably the best part of the meal, chewy dense bread and fruity olive oil is heaven to me.
The wine was expensive (to a student wallet) with the cheapest glass at $8.50. We ordered our mains off the small menu; Tom got the whole grilled rainbow trout with almond butter ($24) and I (stupidly) opted for the chicken involtini ($22). I never, ever get chicken when I go out to restaurants just because I think it's something I can easily eat all the time at home, but I was confounded by the sparkle of the specials menu. Tom's meal was nice, but the fish had a strong muddy flavour. Mine was... okay. Pretty much a huuuuge plate with a small chicken thigh, with goats cheese and some prosciutto wrapped inside in a thin pool of mushroom sauce. Thankfully I love anything with goats cheese so that saved it for me, but I was left feeling hungry and slightly ripped off. Basic sides such as sauteed greens were a further $6, but we didn't have any of these unfortunately.
After the meal we were told there was a little bar downstairs we should visit. So we did. It was very cosy and dimly lit, with a huge bookcase, leather chairs, exposed brick walls, little round tables and petite stools. Perfect. It kind of felt like I was a part of a secret gentlemen's club, minus the smokey atmosphere. We both ordered drinks, and proceeded to get tiddly and eyeball people. There's a lot of eyeballing business that goes on in little bars, I have come to realise, but I love it - I am an avid people watcher, which sometimes leads me to awkward situations if done in inappropriate settings...whoops.
Anyway while it's a little bit expensive, the food is nice, just make sure you pick the right thing to eat, e.g. not the chicken special. It's a good place to go even if you just want a few drinks in a nice setting with some friends. And to the gorgeous waitress with the red hair - thankyou for preventing any illfeelings we may have developed towards this place due to the terrible service from Mr Grumpy Pants at the front.
However, Pocket Bar, just across the road, is an awesome alternative. Cheaper drinks, filling and tasty crepes and friendly bar staff means this place is fierce competition for the Commons. I feel as though some egg-chucking and knock and runs may ensue as neighbourhood rivalry develops.
Either way I'm feeling very chuffed at Sydney's efforts towards creating a new small bar culture because we need it, even if it just to rub it into Melbourne's face a little. Keep 'em coming, I say!
The Commons - Local Eating House
32 Burton Street Darlinghurst, Sydney
open breakfast, lunch and dinner
*Image sources: here, and here