Updated on January 19, 2021 by Julia
Address: 511 Jiangning Rd / 江宁路511弄
Hours: Open for lunch Tuesday- Friday from 12:00-14:30, and Saturday-Sunday from 11:30-14:30. Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 18:00-22:30.
Visited: February 2018
Average Cost Per Person: 200-300 RMB
The Commune Social is truly a different level of culinary expertise gifted to Shanghai. Having become wildly cynical of the F&B scene over the last year, I’ve become skeptical of the “must-eat” institutions that tout 200-300 RMB per person price tags. And now I have to thank The Commune Social for bursting my negative bubble and bringing me at least two dishes I know I would 100% come back for.
The sharing concept is amazing. Between four people, we were able to try a total of 11 dishes, and almost each one brought a different burst of flavor. They offer 3 dishes for 188 RMB and a selection of tapas that are individually priced.
Creamed corn, 65C egg, parmesan, seaweed almost seems too simple, but any dish that provides the perfect egg is a win in my book. Once the parmesan is folded in with the egg, you get a beautiful creamy blend of the cheese and yolk and a slight kick from the sauce hidden underneath. Technically, it’s got your protein and veggies, so what’s not to love?
Marinated salmon, ajo blanco, green apple and green pea ceviche, unfortunately, this was the most underwhelming dish– however, I think this stems from my lack of appreciation for ceviche (I’ve come to realize I dislike most ceviches). As a huge fan of sashimi, you would think a marinated version would blow my mind. I’d skip this.
Spanish breakfast, chorizo and potato (68 RMB) is a beautiful masterpiece. Floating pieces of smoky chorizo and tender potatoes in a creamy base are my dreams come true. If only it came with complimentary pieces of bread, I’d have those sopping wet, straight into my mouth, 0-100 real quick. Or you can go savage and essentially drink it like a soup. 10/10 would take multiple Lactaids for this dish.
Chicken pate, pain dore, apple puree, pickled onion, green apple, dashi absolutely blew my mind. I’ve never had chicken pate before and dug into this dish with no expectations. If it wasn’t necessary to share, I wouldn’t. If I could get three orders of this with the 188 set, I 100% would. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of French toast, the pain dore was the most perfect base for the chicken pate. Crispy enough so it didn’t feel like I was eating a sopping mess of eggs and milk, but fluffy enough where I knew I wasn’t eating straight up toast. The apple elements provided a delicate amount of sweetness to the pate. If you don’t get this dish, you will regret it.
And because I loved this dish so much. Here’s another picture to enjoy in all its glory. This deserves to be in a Pate Hall of Fame.
The bacon, manchego cheese and tomato bocadillo was another surprising success. Typically, these are snack sandwiches found in taverns to bars to roadside establishments. Surprisingly simple in nature, but The Commune Social manages to bake the most delicate baguette. The crunchy exterior gives into a light interior. The manchego cheese is sharp, but is perfectly complemented by a slice of bacon that is (thankfully!) not overly crispy. It’s a marriage of beautiful fats, and you know, just some tomatoes on the side, to be healthy, or whatever.
Roasted and pickled pumpkin, goat curd, basil, smoked feta, pine nuts, dukkah stands in the middle, especially with heavyweight winners like the chicken pate and chorizo, and even the surprising bocadillo. On its own, it’s not a bad dish. I love pumpkin, I love dipping pumpkin in creamy textures. If you’re looking for a vegetable refresher in a menu heavily-laden with creams and meats, this pumpkin dish is definitely not a bad dish to have on the table.
The ‘tongue & cheek’ empanada, caper and raisin puree, foie gras (98 RMB) was another add-on dish that was highly recommended by one in the group. And I am so incredibly grateful this entered my life. The creamy foie gras on top of a perfectly fried empanada (the pastry is the epitome of amazing buttery flakiness) stuffed with well-seasoned meats and then dipped into the slightly sweet/slightly sour raisin puree was a burst of flavors that I never expected. Even reading that sentence, you wouldn’t even know where to begin with the flavor profile, but it just works. Trust me. It’s not included in the set, but it’s well worth the heftier price tag.
Seared scallop, chorizo, and fried quail egg on toast, like the marinated salmon, found itself lacking in flavor. The chorizo and fried eggs gave it a bit of crunch and saltiness, but the scallops themselves lacked almost any seasoning. Serving it on toast, after having had the chicken pate, made it pale in comparison. It seems as if the seafood dishes don’t fair so well at The Commune Social. I’d skip this and try something else.
Honey glazed beef brisket, cauliflower couscous, pickled red cabbage looks amazing in theory. The colors are a beautiful balance, the beef brisket looks melt-in-your-mouth tender, and it’s swimming in a delicate cauliflower couscous “stew-type” mixture. Unfortunately, the brisket, likes the scallop and salmons was missing its own flavor profile, and with cauliflower and red cabbage being rather tasteless on their own, this dish was definitely left unattended after a couple bites. For some reason, this dish also definitely came out colder than intended, and no one wants to eat strands of cold beef brisket.
Pork belly, marinated spring bamboo, teriyaki sauce, mint, raisin puree is not a terrible dish on its own. The pork belly cuts are a good mixture of meats and fats, but again, its downfall is just that slight lack of seasoning. The teriyaki was just missing the kick that it needed, but for some reason I found the marinated spring bamboo so much more delightful. Maybe it was because this was one of the last dishes that came onto the table, and there were already so many heavy flavor profile winners that anything less would have been underwhelming.
Overall, every institution has its winners and losers. The seafood dishes were disappointing (which is sad considering my deep deep love for anything from the sea), but the winners won big. I’d say enough to reel me back in.
Recommended dishes: Chicken pate, ‘Tongue & Cheek” empanada, Spanish breakfast, creamed corn, bocadillo
Would I return?: Yes, yes, yes. Please, more chicken pate.