Neri & Hu has started a design space called The Design Republic Commune in the Jingan District of Shanghai. It is a furniture store, design shop, event space and gallery rolled into one. Housed in a red-brick former police station, the design is minimalist and stylish - with the heritage building meticulously restored. Unfortunately photography is not allowed in the building - so I do not have any pictures to show.
Tucked into one corner of the building is another restaurant project by Jason Atherton - The Commune Social. This is a modern Tapas and dessert bar - with separate sections for drinks, food and dessert. The restaurant itself fits into a series of narrow spaces which you navigate through narrow corridors and stairs. It feels like a rabbit warren - in a nice way. I was there for lunch and decided to have it at the kitchen counter. You could see the executive chef Scott Melvin working in the kitchen.
There is a beautiful courtyard inside for outdoor dining.
The kitchen counter where you can see the chefs in action.
I settled for the Set Lunch Menu - 5 courses for RMB 258. Very reasonable. It stared with Duck Leg and Liver, Roasted Peach, Feta and Walnuts. There were a lot of things going on on the plate - but the flavours worked well together - especially the duck liver and the lightly roasted peach.
Tamarind and Carrot Salad, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Crispy Quinoa. A beautifully plated dish, and very sweet carrots tempered by the slight sourness of the tamarind sauce.
Sherry Cured Salmon, Burnt Cucumber, Cream Cheese and Cumcumber Pannocotta. Another beautiful plate.
Grilled Lamb Cutlet, Creamed Potato, Peas Broad Beans. Goat Cheese Morcilla. This was one of the most traditional dishes - the lamb was perfectly cooked and very tender. The peas and broad beans were a very good accompaniment for the lamb. I didn't really touch the creamed potato as my stomach was quite filled to the brim by then.
For dessert you move to the dessert bar at the front of the restaurant where a small team of dessert chefs assemble the desserts right in front of your eyes. I had the Peanut Ice Cream, Red Fruits and Salted Peanut Caramel. It was delicious.
The Commune Social is one of the few places that actually live up to its reputation. The food is great, the presentation beautiful and the pricing very reasonable. I am surprised it is not more popular.