MELBOURNE, Australia
Since Australia is a former colony of Great Britain, it’s no surprise that you’ll find British influences throughout the country, especially in the pubs that are popular for an afternoon beer.

When I was in Melbourne, I visited The Commoner for lunch — a restaurant in the hip Fitzroy neighborhood opened seven years ago by Jo Corrigan, an Australian who spent 12 years working in kitchens in London. The Commoner’s kitchen is headed by Jake Kellie, a young chef who follows the owner’s mission of delivering modern British food using locally foraged and seasonal ingredients.

Corrigan not only put a lot of details in the menu but also on almost every detail of the restaurant decor, from the chalkboards with hand-written quotes to the modern English tavern spin on the decoration to the complimentary potato sourdough bread brought out to the table. I do feel, though, that sometimes the puffy pillows and frilly dinnerware can make it more like a tea parlor.

The Commoner has a relaxing decor with every detail accounted for, such as the beautiful bottled water

The Commoner has a relaxing decor with every detail accounted for, such as the beautiful bottled water

Beautiful Food
The menu offers up unique ingredients like pork jowl, and all the dishes are beautifully plated and simple, such as the beet salad (which literally has the word “beautiful” in its name), served with house-made curd and orange segments. The beets were nicely cooked, but the curd was a bit bland.

The main dishes, however, lean on the high end, most over AUS$30 a plate, like the snapper I ordered with pickled mussels (pickling mussels are popular in Australia) and pippies (small clams). The snapper was nicely cooked but seemed like a small portion for the price, and the pickled mussels weren’t all that pickled. (I heard from the restaurant, who said they’re on the low end for mains, saying other places average AUS$45. Ouch.)

I ended with a dessert of brown ale pudding, which was like a moist brownie served with salted caramel sauce and clotted cream. I enjoyed the pudding cake but I didn’t really detect much of a brown ale flavor.

The Last Bite
The Commoner dishes up beautiful modern British cuisine in a friendly and welcoming environment. While some of the flavors are sometimes too sublime, it’s a nice clean fusion of British cooking style with Australian ingredients.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps

2.5snaps

 

 

The Commoner, 122 Johnston St., Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. PH: +61(03) 9415-6876. Open lunch, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon; and dinner Wednesday to Sunday, from 6 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.thecommoner.com.au

The Commoner on Urbanspoon

Potato sourdough bread with toasted sesame

Potato sourdough bread with toasted sesame

Beautiful beet salad, house-made curd and orange, AUS$14 or $12.95

Beautiful beet salad, house-made curd and orange, AUS$14 or $12.95

Gold hand snapper with pickled mussels, pippies and elderflower, AUS$33 or $30.55

Gold band snapper with pickled mussels, pippies and elderflower, AUS$33 or $30.55

Enjoying a pot of Earl Grey tea, which just seems fitting for this British-styled restaurant

Enjoying a pot of Earl Grey tea, which just seems fitting for this British-styled restaurant

Brown ale pudding with salted caramel, AUS$14 or $12.95

Brown ale pudding with salted caramel, AUS$14 or $12.95, with clotted cream that I poured on myself (bottom)

The Commoner is off the popular Brunswick Avenue in Fitzroy neighborhood

The Commoner is off the popular Brunswick Avenue in Fitzroy neighborhood

7 Responses to A Review of The Commoner in Melbourne, Australia

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Adorable looking place! A nice spot of tea — plus a big square of pudding; definitely can’t go wrong with that.

    • Ben Ben says:

      I almost skipped the pudding because it sounded heavy, but I’m glad I got, especially pouring the clotted cream over it.

  2. Row says:

    That pudding looks absolutely dreamy!

  3. Brenda Ton says:

    Likewise to everyone else – that pudding! I really like the simple beauty of this place.

  4. Charles says:

    Australia is NOT “a Commonwealth of Great Britain”. The UK does not have commonwealths. Australia is an independent nation. You are confused. Along with 52 other countries, Australia is a member of the Commonwealth. The UK is also a member and does not rule the others. Please do your homework!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks Charles, I’ve made the fix. Sorry, I do this blog part-time and sometimes in my rush to get a post up, I forget to proof better. It’s no excuse, so will do better in proofing in the future.