photo credit: Emily Schindler

Commerce Inn image

Commerce Inn


West Village

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinks & A Light Bite
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The Commerce Inn is the only restaurant in New York City inspired by the early Shaker communities of the American Northeast, and we mean it as a very high compliment when we say that this place probably would have been a disaster if it had been opened by anyone else. The proprietors of Buvette and I Sodi commit hard to the theme, and—in a world where only two Shakers still exist—they almost pull it off.

Commerce Inn image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Nearly every aspect of The Commerce Inn—from the quaint ceramic water jugs to the sturdy Shaker furniture and chalkboard menus—feels heartfelt, and we genuinely believe that the aforementioned restaurateurs, Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, are incapable of making a bland or ugly dish. But by the time the evening’s second iteration of pickled beets arrives at your table, cracks will begin to form, and you’ll start to feel fatigued. You’ll wonder if the jazz trickling through the dining room speakers is authentic Shaker music, and, as you absentmindedly stir your rum swizzle (a Shaker delicacy, to be sure), you’ll ask yourself if you should have just gone to Via Carota instead.

The answer to that question is yes. I Sodi would be an even better choice, and, in a pinch, Buvette would work just fine.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy the modest, unadorned (and often preserved) Shaker-inspired food at this West Village equivalent of a field trip to 1850. It’s just that we can’t find anything to absolutely love here. The neat slabs of smoky salt beef are reminiscent of good barbecued brisket, but, instead of collards or mac and cheese, they arrive with a dishearteningly large pile of pickled cabbage. The thick, heavily brined pork chop is a little more satisfying, although you aren’t going to fist-fight your dining companion for the right to finish its accompanying bed of soupy black eyed peas. If you order the roast chicken, you’ll at least get a big pile of fries. We suggest you go that route.

Commerce Inn image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Depending on how charitable you’re feeling, The Commerce Inn is either an homage or a pretext. You could see it as a loving tribute to Shaker culture and culinary practice, or you could view it as an excuse to trot out some really nice furniture. Every time we come here, we feel compelled to offer our server whatever cash we have on hand in exchange for one of the restaurant’s stout, wooden spindle chairs. The waitstaff’s russet-colored chore coats aren’t bad either, and the faux-candlelit atmosphere makes us want to order a pint of ale and complain about King George III.

If you choose your restaurants based on their period-perfect decor, you might just love it here. If you don’t, it might be hard to have fun. You can console yourself with menu highlights like the bone marrow showered with roasted mushrooms, but you’ll inevitably find that pickled beets and simply grilled asparagus—historically accurate as they are—don’t speak to you the way that Via Carota’s pappardelle does. Once you’ve finished your Shaker fare, a quaintly dressed server will arrive to collect your payment with a not-so-Shaker credit card reader, and The Commerce Inn’s old-timey fantasy will tear a bit at the seams. This restaurant almost works. But not quite.

Food Rundown

Salt Beef

The Commerce Inn always has specials, which are written on chalkboards spread throughout the space. This salt beef is smoky and fork-tender, and the thin layer of fat on top melts in your mouth. On the side, you’ll get a big heap of pickled cabbage (with some julienned beets tossed in), and we apologize for this. The cabbage isn’t bad. It just gets a bit exhausting.
Commerce Inn image

photo credit: Emily Schindler


Order the spoonbread, and a server will arrive with a big ceramic platter and dish you up an individual portion. This feels nice and homey, although the spoonbread tends to be a little dry. It’s not an essential order.
Commerce Inn image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Bone Marrow

You would think that bone marrow would be the highlight of this dish, but it is not. The best part is all of the roasted hen-of-the-woods dumped on top of the bones. Spread some marrow on a slice of buttery housemade sourdough, and add as many mushrooms as your DIY crostini will allow. This should always be on your table.

Lamb Chops

Our favorite dish at The Commerce Inn, these lamb chops are charred, juicy, and topped with a handful of grilled green onions. They’re the best lamb chops in the West Village, and they’re also pretty small. So don’t plan on being stuffed.

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Suggested Reading

The Best Restaurants In The West Village image

The Best Restaurants In The West Village

All the spots you’ll want to know about the next time you wind up in this neighborhood full of brownstones and celebrities walking their dogs.

Buvette image

Buvette is a French restaurant in the West Village that’s great for a date or a really good breakfast. Just be aware that it can get pretty cramped.

Via Carota image

Via Carota is a walk-in only Italian spot in the West Village, and there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait a few hours for a table. It’s worth it.


I Sodi is a tiny restaurant that serves the best Italian food in the West Village.

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