While the food was delicious, we couldn't help but think this one was significantly over-priced for what you get.
High-End Cocktails at The Commoner
We've stopped in for drinks here several times which is in and of itself an experience.
The cocktail menu includes drinks with really long names and long descriptions full of buzzy ingredients like fat washed whiskeys, housemade infusions, and obscure reductions.
On our most recent visit, we tried several cocktails that fell somewhat flat for us (the Turducken; What's the Capital of Thailand) while others were more balanced and intriguing, like the Monongahela Manhattan and the Even Vegetarians Eat Animal Crackers.
The former was made using a single barrel rye whiskey from Wigle and was nice and boozy, although it was disappointing that it contained small ice cubes (we're a fan of king cubes that don't water drinks down as much).
The Even Vegetarians Eat Animal Crackers was definitely the most creative and delicious cocktail that we tried- it included foie gras washed Basil Hayden's, apple brandy, an apple reduction, and concord grape preserves and had complex flavors that jumped out in every sip.
While the cocktail menu is quite inventive, we do have some misgivings about the prices- most range from $14-$18 and special “reserve” cocktails can be as high as $45! We understand that this is a downtown hotel bar, but other downtown bars have managed to reign in prices while still producing stellar products.
Sadly, this is quite similar to the hotel's seasonal, rooftop bar known as The Biergarten as well.
Upscale Dining With Prices to Match
Moving on to dinner, we started with the cauliflower appetizer.
This dish started with roasted cauliflower that had a nice char, and was topped with a sweet-salty bacon jam and booze-soaked golden raisins for a punch of booziness and sweetness. A light cream sauce tied everything together.
For entrees Jeremy had to go for the burger which was topped with gouda, a horseradish cream, and crispy onions, and was served on a sweet potato brioche bun. We also added on a dippy egg for good measure.
While the burger was cooked to a perfect medium rare as we had requested, nothing really stood out in terms of unique flavors to justify its $20 price tag.
We were more impressed with my entree, a seafood chowder. The broth was a well-seasoned creamy leek broth, and the seafood included shrimp, mussels, and clams, all cooked to perfection. Potatoes and bites of bacon rounded out the dish, along with a tiny little spoonbread that was delicious and great for mopping up the broth.
While the quality of the food and drinks at The Commoner exceeds what you'd find at a typical hotel, it comes at a price.
The appertizer and the seafood chowder were fairly priced for high-end, hotel fare (about $14 and $32 respectively), while the burger was a let-down at $20. Couple that with the $14-$18 cocktails and you end up with one of the most expensive meals we've ever had in the city.
Suffice it to say, we walked away talking about that much more than the food.
The Commoner is located in the Hotel Monaco at 620 William Penn Place in downtown Pittsburgh. Note that The Commoner serves a limited mid-day menu between lunch and dinner as well.