Communal has been generating a lot of buzz in the Provo area. With its focus on local, sustainable foods and quality presentation, those who have eaten there were most likely not surprised when Communal won the Best of State award in the New American category. Communal offers separate menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. Roni and I decided to give the Communal brunch menu a try, and we were largely impressed with our experience.
Every time I tell somebody about about Communal, the question inevitably comes up, “Why is it called Communal?’ I think a quick glance at the menu and the decor of this establishment can quickly answer the question. The first reason I would guess that restaurant is named “communal” is that whenever possible, the menu items come from local or community farms. Much of the meat seems to come from Christiansen Farm, while much of the produce comes from Jacob’s Cove, both local endeavors. The second reason I conjecture the restaurant is called Communal is that a large portion of the dining area is taken up by a large community dining table, as opposed to individual dining tables. This allows individuals to sit around a joint table, much as a family would gather around the dinner table. Finally, the dishes themselves lend themselves to community eating. Instead of each individual getting their own plate, one large plate of the ordered item is brought out and everybody shares from the plate.
In general, the service was responsive and helpful. Our server did take quite a while to come and get our order, but once he did he was quite good about making sure our glasses stayed full and attending to our needs. On a less awesome note, I did find that several mystery bits floating in my water, and Roni’s fork had several bits of food stuck to it. Considering that the water is supposed to be super-filtered pH balanced water, it was a bit disappointing to see bits floating in the water before we even received our food.
By far the best part of the experience, however, was the food. Roni ordered the eggs Benedict and I ordered the sausage and biscuits with a side of bacon. The eggs Benedict were perfect. The poached egg was expertly executed with a warm and creamy yolk that spilled out with the first bite. I thought the lemon in the hollandaise sauce nicely balanced the richness of the yolk, but Roni found the lemon a bit strong. The eggs came with a side of potatoes that were perfectly seasoned and cooked. The biscuits and gravy were perhaps even better than the eggs Benedict. The biscuit was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The biscuit was large, but the gravy was generously supplied. The gravy was savory, and wasn’t overly peppery (as I have found many country-style gravies can be). The house-made sausage was slightly sweet and provided a nice contrast to the savory gravy. The bacon, which is cured and smoked on site, had a full smoky flavor which was quite pleasant. It was, however, a bit tough and hard to chew.
Overall our experience was quite good. Reservations are a generally a good idea, though we have been able to get a table with a short wait. If we could find somebody to watch our kids in the morning, I think we would go back much more frequently. On that note, this is definitely not a place to bring young children. Hire a babysitter (or guilt a relative!) and go to Communal. It is worth it.
Category: Fine Dining
Food Quality: 5
Portion Size: 4.5
Overall Experience: 4.5
price (per item): $6-16
tl;dr: Leave the kids at home and enjoy the excellent food of Communal. It is worth the hype!
100 North University Avenue
Provo, Utah 84601
Roni and I have a very important rule in our house. This rule helps inspire creativity and experimentation. Well, at least in the kitchen. What is this rule? The rule is that we are free to try new recipes, but nobody has to eat the result. What this ends up meaning is that if the dish turns out gross, we can go and get something else. Sometimes we make something up, and other times we just go out into the wild internets in search of new recipes. Both options have mixed results.
Recently, I discovered that a certain number of food network shows are available on Hulu. This has had the direct result of making me want to make up new recipes. Here is my most recent creation. Remember! It is a work in progress, so it might take some tweaking here or there to get it how you like it. But I think the elements are all there for a really tasty meal. The fish has a wonderful lime marinade that balances quite nicely with the mild sweetness of the sauce and rice. While the elements are nice apart, they are best when experienced together.
Thai-Inspired Mahi Mahi
1lb center-cut Mahi Mahi (thawed if frozen)
Juice from 1 lime
zest from 1 lime
1 tbs chopped basil
1 tbs chopped cilantro
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups calrose medium grain rice
1 can coconut milk (about 15 oz)
salt to taste
1 can coconut milk (about 15 oz)
2.5 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tsp ground cumin (about 1 tbsp whole cumin)
1 tsp ground coriander (about 1/2 tbsp whole coriander)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp lemon grass, chopped (about 1/2 stalk)
1/2 tbsp fresh basil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt (more or less according to taste)
3/4 cup bell pepper strips
1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
1. Prep Mahi Mahi by removing scales if the fish still has the skin on it. This can be done by running a vegetable peeler against the grain of the scales under running cold water. Cut the Mahi Mahi into 4 portions of equal size.
2. Mix together the remaining marinade ingredients into a large ziploc bag and shake to mix. Add the Mahi Mahi portions and make sure they are evenly covered with the marinade. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, but not longer than 2 hours.
3. Wash the rice, and cook according to instructions. If the coconut milk has separated, make sure to mix it well so that everything is evenly incorporated. If preparing on the stove, additional water may be necessary.
4. While the rice cooks, add coconut milk to medium sauce pan bring to a simmer.
5. Add in peanut butter and stir to fully incorporate with the coconut milk.
6. Add in ground cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes. Stir. Add in chopped lemon grass, fresh basil and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in pinch of turmeric for color.
7. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes. Strain mixture into bowl and keep it warm.
8. Get a skillet and bring to a high temperature. Add a small amount of olive oil to the pan, and the olive oil should just begin to smoke. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in the Mahi Mahi (skin side down if there is skin). Season fish with salt and pepper.
9. Cook Mahi Mahi for 2-3 minutes on each side depending on thickness and remove it from the pan. Reduce heat to medium.
10. Add in remaining marinade to the skillet while the skillet is still at a high temperature, and cook for several seconds. Add in fresh bell pepper and cook, stirring constantly for 30-45 seconds, until the pepper just starts cook. Remove peppers from heat and mix in the fresh chopped cilantro.
11. Place one ladle full (1/3 cup) of the sauce in the bottom of a bowl. Put rice on top of the sauce and the fish on top of the rice. Top with the peppers and cilantro.
When I was little, mint cookies and cream was my absolute favorite. Every time we got ice cream (which in our house was VERY frequently) my vote was for mint cookies and cream. I thought that when I found Ben and Jerry’s Mint Oreo (now Mint Chocolate Cookie), I had been given the the world’s most perfect mint cookies and cream ice cream. I am happy to say I have proven myself wrong, though their recipe was the basis for my own recipe, I changed it enough that I’m not afraid to call it my own.
Yield: about 1.5 quarts
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
blue food coloring
2 tsp pure peppermint extract
1 cup chopped up Oreos* (as big or as little of chunks as your heart desires)
1. Add cream and half-and-half to sauce pot and gently bring to a light boil. Remove from heat.
2. Put egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until they become light in color. Add in sugar about 1/4 cup at a time and whisk. Add in just a drop or two of the blue food coloring to turn the yellow yolks mint green.
3. Add the hot cream mixture to the eggs about 1/2 cup at a time and whisk each time until about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added.
4. Add in remaining cream mixture to the eggs, and let sit for 3o minutes. (for a firmer ice cream, cook the whole mixture to about 170 degrees, so that it has a chance to thicken)
5. Add in peppermint extract and stir.
6. Cover and place in refrigerator for 4-8 hours. At this time, place the chopped up Oreos into the freezer.
7. Add mix to ice cream maker according to instructions.
8. When there is about 2 minutes left, and the ice cream has thickened substantially, take the Oreos out of the freezer and add them to the ice cream.
9. Eat right away or pack it into air-tight containers. The longer you store it, the less crisp and crunchy to cookies will be.
*blah, blah, blah, “Oreo” is a registered trademark of Nabisco, blah, blah, blah, legal stuff.