Monday, September 22, 2008

A Visit to Commissary

Commissary has arrived, and I've belatedly gotten there. In fact, as I type I'm sitting in the Commissary lounge. Overall, I'm carrying away positive impression. (By the way, thank you for your patience as the Mr. and I have been traveling and thus negligent about updating the blog.)

The overall vibe is more casual and inviting than Merkado. The dining concept at Commissary is designed to be looser than its predecessor. Customers have several seating options -- large soft chairs in the lounge, indoor table service, bar seating, and patio tables. You can also order to-go items at the register.

The previously hard-edged decor has been softened to a contemporary Americana style achieved with a subtle star motif, a large American flag in the bar area, a wash of denin blue paint, chalkboard signage, and light fixtures of bare lightbulbs. The colorfully uphlostered lounge furniture and benches, and and pulled-back curtains hanging along one wall further add to a comfy feel. However, the high bare ceilings and wood floor remain, so expect the noise level to be high during peak times.

The food is good but not anything that will redefine the culinary arts. The menu selection reminds me somewhat of Karmerbook's Afterwords Café -- small plates/sharesies, salads, sandwiches, larger dinner plates, and weekend brunch. You'll find, however, that some of the specific menu items are unique to Commissary such as popcorn to snack on and sherbert-based smoothies, available in "spiked" and non-alcoholic versions. As well, dog owners can order snacks for their fur children. If it's comfort food you seek give the very beefy chili or banana cream pie a shot.

Liquid nutrition is plentiful. Get your B vitamins from the Yuengling, Victory, Sam Adams seasonal, or Brooklyn Lager on tap. The wine list, like that of Merkado, is a good if not extensive selection of relatively inexpensive new world fruits of the vine. The menu also specifically suggests considering adding a liquor depth charge to your coffee bar drink.

As has been noted before, the staff from Merkado was retained to work at Commissary. Depending on your previous experiences, this could be a good or a bad thing. I've found the bartenders and servers to be polite and helpful. I'm also always happy to see a restaurant do what it can to retain quality trained staff as service in the city can be pretty poor.

Commissary is likely to become a neighborhood hit. While I was dining, the bartender noted that businesses since opening has been pretty good. I can see myself sipping chai in the lounge while listening to Death Cab over the stereo and perusing one of the magazines from the rack. Carryout breakfast options might be what take me through a Friday morning, and I look forward to trying the potato pancakes on the brunch menu (available Saturdays and Sundays). I think Logan needed a chill place with a neighborhood feel where folks could casually drop in.


Anonymous said...

I was there last week. The service was pretty slow and my waiter seemed to be fairly clueless as to how the place was to operate.

Overall, the food was decent. It was better than Merkado, which isn't saying much since Merkado had the blandest "nuevo latino" or mexican or whatever it was supposed to be.

Also, I am not totally thrilled about the layout of the inside. I like their concept, but I think that the table layout is just awkward...and it just feels like a sit-down restauarant with a tiny more relaxed area (whose "comfy" chairs look like they came from value-city-furniture..bleh).

I will come back for the prices..not the food or decor.

Anonymous said...

More positive posts! Geez.

I liked the food at Merkado a lot, and thought their huge nacho plate was not only good food but a great value. I'm excited to try the Commissary in the next couple of weeks. I'll probably really enjoy some aspect of my visit, and would be happy to post about it.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't impressed. My friend ordered his burger medium rare and it was way overcooked and flavorless. I had the margarita pizza and Caesar salad. Pizza is not their thing. The salad was decent. It's so similar to all their other restaurants that it left me frustrated. Logan Tavern is right next door and similar in layout. Why not bring something new to the area. Anyway, I know it's not positive, but it's my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, a "chill" place in Logan selling chai and sandwiches to the non-profit crowd won't pay the high rent, so my guess is that this place is headed for a quicker demise than Merkado. Also, thanks for the heads up on the dog snacks. I can definitely cross his place off my list.