Restaurant Review: A Common Table
A Common Table set up a serious sandwich shop smack dab in the center of Clintonville on High Street. The address formerly held a solid salad operation, but these days, bread n’ meat (or beet) combos are on the menu. The new joint hosts a small dine-in area, with walls bedecked with interesting art. At last visit, the eatery hosted a collection of impressionist-esque paintings that grow increasingly interesting (and vaguely disturbing), the more you look at them.
A Common Table didn’t do anything splashy to mark its 2019 opening. It didn’t boast about meticulously constructed and creative combos, but it could have made those claims. There’s a lot to take in when you see the menu. It’s not just your regular old ham n’ cheese joint.
A couple things right off the bat: it uses good bread, and that good bread is chewable. Too often “good” bread is somehow confused in the sandwich world for something that looks fancy, but rips and tears awkwardly when it comes to eating. If you’re trying to bite into a sandwich, you need a bread that’s sturdy enough to hold things together, and tender enough to cooperate and neatly accompany each bite. At A Common Table, it comes in white, wheat, rye and ciabatta, and even the ciabatta is cooperative. Goal #1: Met.
The other notable starting feature is that the deli uses Thumann’s meats. This is a feature that the business actually does promote — there’s a sign in the window bearing the Thumann’s cursive logo. The New Jersey-based meat provider isn’t local, but it is a deli institution, with plenty of street credibility earned by three generations of the Thumann family.
So, let’s kick things off with Buffalo Chicken Sandwich ($8.50). There’s no caustic orange business involved in the combo, but what is there instead is well worth appreciating. It hosts layer after layer of fresh, sliced deli-chicken meat, pepper cheese, pickled jalapeño, herb aioli and avocado. The fillings are tightly packed with a bonus layer of tender green spinach leaves. Generous, well-put-together, with a touch of artistry — what more could you want?
Staying in the poultry department, there’s also chicken salad. As the name indicates, Chicken Curried ($8.50) is a curry version of the homespun classic, amped up with that defining fragrant curry accent, but still offering plenty of mainstream friendliness. The salad is teamed with more avocado, still-crunchy pickled cabbage, more spinach, and toasted pepitas for a little extra entertainment.
There are a lot of Reuben options. You can do corned beef or pastrami, you can do portabella, or “corned beet.” A tour or cross-comparison of the variations is probably in order for this summer. For now, the meaty Corned Beef version is lovely. You can do an upcharge with double meat for an additional $3.50, but the straight version is truly ample. It’s teamed with swiss and house dressing, and while sauerkraut is an option, revisiting the crunch of the pickled cabbage instead gives it a unique touch that still scratches that Reuben itch.
Having punted on the vegetable version of the Reuben, there are still plenty of other plant-based sandwich options. The Swingin’ Vegan (8.50) hosts a likable mix of red pepper hummus, pickled beet, avocado, roasted tomatoes, spinach, plus crisp cucumber and more pepitas.
Side wise, you can do chips and a few funky salads. Garbanzo beans play a starring role in the three bean salad ($3) that’s lightly dressed in a vinaigrette. And while there’s no bar, there is Mexican Coke in the fridge, which is a net win, by personal standards.
You can find it at 3496 N. High St.
For more information, visit their website.