Commerce street is one of those charming streets in the West village that curve around in a way that makes one wonder why was it built that way?  The nature of the street also keeps the street quiet with very little traffic.  The Cherry Lane Theater is on Commerce Street and next to that is a restaurant that has gone through a variety of transformations over the years.  Blue Mill Inn, Grange Hall and now Commerce is the history of the different names and different owners. 

In todays world of restaurant media, if you stay up on the latest and greatest, you knew that Commerce opened this week.  The place was jammed.  Reservations were not available ( totally booked ) but they do have bar booths available for walk-ins.  After the coffeehouse at the high school where Josh gave a performance, we ( just us and the girls) walked over to Commerce to see if we could get a table.  One hour or perhaps less so we figured why not.  Everything else will be just as crowded.  We end up getting seated in 40 minutes.  Not bad.

The restaurant looks just like Grange Hall did, a total flash back.  Some booths are very tight and others are more roomier.  Best to like the people you are eating with in the smaller booths.  We kept in mind that Commerce just opened and they still have to flush out the kinks.  The kinks here are mostly timing.

The menu is great.  I particularly like the section for sharing from chicken to fish to huge beef shank for 4.   The beef shank that came out of the kitchen was beautiful.  Looked like it came directly from a restaurant in Paris. We were seated about 930 and ordered around 940.  We were hungry and decided to bag the appetizers and just order main courses.  We started off with the bread bowl which was delicious.  Not sure who is making those tasty treats in the back but each small roll had a distinctive flavor and was really good.  Olive, sesame and sourdough.  Then we waited and we waited and we waited.  Our waiter failed to tell us a chicken takes about 40 minutes.  If we had just ordered mains, no appetizers, that would have been your clue to say and by the way, the chicken takes forty minutes which would be fine if you ordered an appetizer. 

at 1020, they told us that the chicken took a while since we were wondering where our food was.  At this point, we considered just leaving because our hunger had passed.  at 1025, they bring out the chicken and then return with it to the kitchen to carve.  15 minutes later the chicken comes out plated with the two other dishes.  15 minutes?  I could have carved it myself at the table. 

The redeeming factor is the food is excellent.  The chicken is moist and tasty served with a foie gras stuffing.  Cubes of bread that have been roasting inside the chicken with foie gras are outrageous.  This is served on a whipped bed of potatoes.  Really delicious.  Jessica has the snapper that was served in a bowl over a Thai green curry sauce which was also top.  Flavorful, well cooked yet simple and delicious.  Emily went with the salmon.  Salmon that had been smoked so it was like a large piece of lox over a red wine emulsion and Jerusalem artichokes.  Really delicious.  We did not get the entire meal until around 1040/45. 

The vote is a total thumbs up on food.  Commerce will work through the service, the conversations with their wait staff and hopefully will become a local spot as Grange became.  The bar area was packed with locals and the reservations were mostly people from other parts of the city.  Call me crazy but that is what it looked like to me.  I am thrilled that 50 Commerce has reopened it’s doors to a new name, Commerce.  I will be more thrilled when the food comes out of the back in a more timely manner.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Local Food Lover/Accurate Grange Hall Historian

    I thought Commerce was brilliant and so much nicer than Grange Hall (which I loved too) ever was. Were any of these people ever at Grange Hall? It was a fun local place that had terrible food and wasn’t particularly clean.

    This new incarnation is beautiful. I think the restoration looks quite expensive and detailed. I love the wood on the bar and the tables — so elegant and sturdy — and I think the mural is inspired and subtley sapphic. Our waiter said that the bar was restored from an original 1940 piece. Quite impressive.

    We had an excellent dinner … porterhouse for two that was succulent. We also had the most amazing pasta (with pesto, I forget the name) as an appetizer. Mouth watering.

    This is my new favorite place. I’m going again tonight. I hope that they stay true to their village locale’s history, but bravo for the modern updates.

    By the way, I remembered Harold Moore (the chef and owner) from a meal a couple of years ago at the James Beard House. He is a very talented chef. I’m so glad that he has his own place now … this is a winner!

  2. snoopy

    The place is too bright