This was my third visit to Commonwealth. My first visit in September was incredible -- each dish was exciting, innovative and tastey. Most memorable was a dish made with Fluke. The food had the spirit of Ubuntu -- fresh, clean, suprising and beautifully presented -- although Commonwealth is far from vegetarian.
My last two visits were a few weeks apart in December (2010). While the food was good the menu hadn't changed much between visits. Almost everything we tried was tastey from the kabocha squash dish to the yuzu and mushroom dish, to the mackarel to the pear/pomengranite/prosciutto salad. The only noteworthy disppointment was the Thyme Churros with Huckleberry sauce. The food shows a lot of variety in flavor and flavor intensity -- some dishes packed in the flavor and others were very subtle. Well worth the visit.
What significantly took away from the overall experience was the disappointing is the wine list. We've now tasted almost all the 'by the glass' options, both white and red, and during both visits we couldn't imagine ordering a glass of any of the options. However, we really wanted a glass of wine with dinner. It was frustrating to not be able to enjoy a nice meal with a reasonable glass of wine. The wines we've tasted lacked depth often disappearing as soon as they entered your mouth or had strong odd flavors one being so smokey it was as if you were in a smoke house. Both times we sat there torn between ordering something we didn't like (hoping 'it'll taste better with food, right?") and not having wine. None of the glasses we've ended up ordering tasted better with food.
After the last two visits, I feel like it'd be hard to convince myself to go again without seeing a change in their wine list. There are too many other great options in the bay area that have great food and wine -- Plum in Oakland being one. I do hope they make some changes . If wine isn't an important part of your dining experience I definitely recommend Commonwealth.
Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558
2224 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110