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Commerce

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If splendid food comes first, with points for local-idol sightings, we’ll write off the painful din at Commerce and tonight’s overanxious Mary Popinjay server and just shower this historic-landmark spot with raves. We surrender from the moment executive chef–co-owner Harold Moore’s astonishing bread basket arrives warm from the oven, a standout even in this bread-savvy town—olive and sesame rolls, brioche, soft pretzel twists—inspiring the bread abstainer in our trio to eat three and ask for seconds. We shout to be heard and marvel at the tingle of twenty herbs and lettuces in a remarkable salad with shards of Manchego and the yang to its yin—a lush ragù of long pasta tubes with oxtail, trotters, and tripe. Sweet Maine shrimp, the season’s first carrots, and pea sprouts are the “essence of spring” promised in ginger-touched seviche, rather skimpy for $16 but delicious. In this first tasting of the very serious kitchen newly settled into what was once a Depression-era speakeasy, I am impressed by Moore’s olive-oil-poached halibut in a heady stew of sweet peas, speck, and black truffle, even though overly salty. Stuffed breast of veal gets a boost from the sting of horseradish and tarragon-mustard sauce. Prices are serious, too—appetizers $11 to $19, entrées mostly less than $30 ($44 per person for the porterhouse listed in “Things to Share”). Pastry chef Josue Ramos aims to startle with celery salad alongside chocolate peanut-butter marquise. The roasted pineapple cheesecake is Barbie-on-a-diet size.

Commerce (View Menu)
50 Commerce St., nr. Barrow St.; 212-524-2301


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