High on the Skybar

Dish can't think of a recent restaurant opening that created more buzz than the Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar. When the place opened on Saturday, September 25, nearly 200 people crowed into the uniquely renovated former A&N clothing store space on the east end of the Downtown Mall, and especially on to the roof-top bar and lounge overlooking the Fifth Street intersection. The following morning, Sunday, there was a note on the door telling the staff, who survived probably one of the biggest opening nights in Mall restaurant history, to take the day off.

This past weekend, the situation was no different. On both Friday and Saturday night the place was packed, and one of the partners in the venture, chef/manager Alex George, weaved his way in and out of the huge crowds.

"I think you've got something big on your hands," Dish told him.

George just sighed, smiled, and shook his head like a man who had had too much of a good thing for a few days.

So what's the place like? Well, it appears to have a split personality. While people quietly enjoy their meals on the first floor, the large sliding glass doors open along a row of tables street-side, the high-back, half-circle booths creating a little intimacy in the middle of the room, the roof-top terrace is thick with bodies trying to get a bartender's attention. It's a young, well-dressed crowd sprinkled with dapper-looking oldsters standing along the roof rail or lounging on red couches.

And it's loud. Heading east along the Mall you begin to hear the muffled roar of conversation and laughter before you pass Five Guys. Along the roof line, dozens of torsos and heads are positioned like animated busts, while those on the street crane their necks to see.

It's a scene that George hopes will continue through the fall and winter, as space heaters are about to be installed on the open-air Skybar. And the foodРwell, if the fried free-range chicken sandwich and the lobster mac & cheese are any indication, those red couches won't be the only things comforting folks as they party the night away. And that's just on on the roof. Down below, grilled lamb chops and crispy duck breast, seared snapper, and Timber Creek pork chops, and a saut̩ed bed of chick peas, mustard greens, roma tomatoes, and curry leaves await.


Tried this place and could not believe the hype. Mr george needs to change his job urgently; the food was badly cooked and just lame.
But I guess the drunks will keep him on the payroll.

Space heaters in the open air skybar? Not so green..

Green, are they touting themselves as "Green" or something? Didn't think so. Plenty of things that aren't "green" at bars...get over it.

I was priviledged to attend one of the pre opening nights and the food was fantastic and plentiful. We had the chicken and flank steak with an appetizer of pulled pork with sweet potato croquettes. It was delightful, the service was great and the place is beautiful.

I wonder what da po' folks is eatin'?

I call the food "goosebump food" because every time I have eaten anything there, that's what I get! SOOOOO good!! The space is "sexy" and the atmosphere is light and inviting. Glad it is finally open!!

The place is over overrated. It will be here today and gone tomorrow.

Well I think it's pretty!

Charlottesville is over rated, so what else is new

It will be here a while because it is a cool venue in a good location. The food is good, some misses but lots of great dishes. Try the scallops.

The food is less expensive then most of the "fancy" restaurants all over downtown, yet the service lacks the stuck up pretentiousness you get at blue light or zocalo. In fact it might be the best service I've seen in this town. The passion of the management though is what really shines at Commonwealth. The general manager hand picked a phenomonal wine list, and the bar manager slash mixologist has created some incredible cocktails, including interesting ingredients and garnishes. They have a great bottle beer selction. The draft selection is pretty good for only eight. The food is a fresh and wonderful combination of new and old, local and far away, all of it carefully crafted by chef George and his first class crew of talented cooks. Commonwealth has truly covered every angle.