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Common Ground: Uncommonly Good Food

By midnight, dancers replace diners


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are dance nights at Common Ground and the dining area becomes a dance floor. Photos by Kristyn Ulanday

Common Ground is one of the far-too-many-to-count bars and restaurants on Harvard Avenue in Allston, just a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bus ride from campus. So why choose to go there instead of one of the many others? Two words: dining and dancing.

The cajun seasoned salmon with tomato and mushroom risotto, white wine butter sauce, and basil oil ($13) is as tasty and beautifully prepared as seafood dishes served in Boston’s most elegant dining spots. The house-made butternut squash ravioli with caramelized onions in a madeira cream sauce, roasted squash, parmesan cheese, and arugula ($11) is another particularly worthwhile temptation. Dinner is served nightly until 11 p.m., when, from Thursday through Saturday, the dining space is morphed into a dance floor.

Common Ground does occasionally have live music, but live bands appear so infrequently that revelers who want to hear music by real humans are better off elsewhere. DJs are the norm here, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Friday’s “My So-Called ’90s Night” is the most popular night of the week, and music from that decade is pumped through an impressive sound system mounted high on the walls. Every first and third Saturday are Videodrome nights, with music synched with images shown on seemingly ubiquitous wall-mounted flat screens. Music generally starts at 10 p.m., cover charges may apply, and all shows are 21-plus.

Particularly before the music starts, the atmosphere at Common Ground is pleasantly civilized. Half of the space is tricked out as a barroom, with stools and high tables dominated by an expansive brick-backed bar, and half is a wood-paneled restaurant-style space with tables served by vigilant waitstaff. A large table, suitable for celebrations like the birthday bash witnessed on a recent visit, centers the room.

If there is a unifying theme to the décor, it is professional sports—all professional sports, all the time. Common Ground has six, count ’em, six, big-screen TVs mounted on the walls, and every one displays a current sports event. Diners can switch their entertainment from, for example, college football to a Pats game to a Red Sox game with a slight turn of the head.

For non–sports fans, there is plenty of entertainment to be found on the sidewalks of Harvard Avenue, and on warm evenings, the restaurant’s wide windows are open to a flowing skein of bicyclists, skateboarders, and Allston characters.

Like most venues catering to a young and trend-conscious crowd, Common Ground has the required expansive list of designer beers (16 in all), with names like BCC Lost Sailor IPA and Victory Scarlett Fire Rauchbier. Intimidating as the beer nomenclature is, it pales before the list of cocktails: sextini, Rorschach, tabula rasa, and more. Many more.

Common Ground is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Lunch is served until 4 p.m., dinner until 11 p.m.
DJs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 21-plus
83 Harvard Ave., Allston, Mass. 02134-1772

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

Read about more nightspots around the area here.

This is part of a series featuring Boston nightspots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below.  


3 Comments on Common Ground: Uncommonly Good Food

  • JG on 09.09.2010 at 11:58 am

    Good spot

    This really is a good spot… The lost sailor ipa by berkshire brewing is the real deal if you like hoppy ipa’s.

    I haven’t had the chatham cod yet, but will be heading back there this week..

  • Anonymous on 01.07.2011 at 11:31 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic venue, but when you say “the shows” are 21+, do you mean when the bands come, or just the dancing in general? If it’s the dancing in general, then that’s a bit disappointing. I know tons of freshmen and sophomores who’d love a spot like this, but couldn’t get in because of their age.

    Do you have another suggestions for places that would let 18+ in?

  • Anonymous on 07.19.2011 at 10:13 am

    Agree with the first post. Really disappointing 18+ year olds are not allowed in. :(

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