There’s an awful lot to love about Commerce in the West Village—its flawlessly executed dishes, superb cocktails, sweet potato tortelloni on the menu year-round; its commissioned murals, 1941 Brunswick bar, history as a bona fide speakeasy, frequent celeb spottings, gracious but unobtrusive service—need I go on? It’s the sort of restaurant every neighborhood needs: perhaps too nice to stop by every day, but tasty enough to make you want to, and comfortable enough to make you feel as if you could.
All that said, the highlight of an evening at Commerce has to be the bread basket. Or, more accurately speaking, bread mountain. And that’s not in any way to denigrate the skill of Harold Moore and Snir Eng-Sela in the kitchen, or the line cooks firing out the entrées; it’s just that this bread is too good to ignore. We’re talking seven or eight kinds of rolls, even for a table of two, all baked in-house—from salty soft pretzels to delicate Parker House Rolls to strips of foccacia redolent with olive oil...plus olive bread, and a pull-apart roll, and perhaps a tomato-fennel number, and seed bread, and a chewy, tender butter roll, each of which, somehow, tastes better than the last. All served with a quenelle of whipped butter so light that it’s like a salty whipped cream, practically begging to be eaten by the spoonful.
One tries not fill up on bread before dinner, but this is not the sort of bread that allows itself to be pushed aside. It simply ends up disappearing. There's really no choice.