Four months ago Kevin Jamison opened the doors of Commune for two reasons: the time was right in Virginia Beach to open a restaurant of this variety, and to start the conversation about the importance of consuming naturally grown and locally sourced (and seasonal) food and humanely raised and slaughtered animals.
Before I dive into what my boyfriend and I ate, I have to take a moment and rave about the coffee. The Haitian Bleu coffee to be exact. This particular coffee is the only thing Commune serves that isn’t from the United States. I added the usual cream and sugar in my first cup but quickly realized I’d used too much and with my second cup, I used nothing. This coffee needs no doctoring. It was damn good.
I’m an eggs Benedict girl so it was only natural to order their version, which included devil chipped ham, poached eggs, Bearnaise sauce and sautéed kale on toasted sweet potato biscuits. My boyfriend ordered the savory porridge bowl, which included Carolina Gold rice and VA barley, crumbled breakfast sausage, a sunny side up egg, roasted veggies and cheddar cheese. (This particular dish can be made vegan!) Both dishes were beautifully plated and full of color. The eggs Benedict were like nothing I’ve ever had. The sautéed kale was an unexpected treat and the sweet potato biscuit only amplified the overall experience.
My boyfriend’s porridge bowl was equally as delicious (I had a bite or seven). The veggies were perfectly cooked and we were both surprised and delighted by the pumpkin and watermelon radish.
We ended our meal with the heirloom blue cornmeal fritters, made with Gouda, kale, pickled radish and spices with raw honey butter on the side. The fritters were not only stunning, they were delicious as well.
Kevin Jamison graduated from high school in Virginia Beach then headed to Italy for a few years, where he lived in Vatican City, above a restaurant where the chef taught him the basics of Italian cooking. Kevin graduated from college with a major in international development/law with a focus on food security in developing countries. He worked with the United Nations (UN) and founded a non-profit organization, Community Development International (CDi).
When Kevin found his way back to Virginia Beach, he and John Wilson of New Earth Farm, located in Pungo, began working together to develop food labs and classes and build community outreach, all based around the same concept Kevin carries into Commune. If you’ve eaten at Commune, you’ve likely eaten something sourced from New Earth Farm.
After we finished our meal we went out back to Commune’s impressive garden. Many of the herbs and produce used at Commune are grown right in their backyard. What they don’t grow themselves they source locally (NC, VA or MD). What can’t be sourced locally, like sugar, salt, baking powder, etc. is purchased elsewhere. All food scraps and trash are sent to New Earth Farm to be composted. If something isn’t in season, it’s not on their menu. (For example, tomatoes aren’t in season now, so they’re not on Commune’s menu.)
In Kevin’s words, “cheap food isn’t cheap.” Let’s go back to the tomatoes. For a restaurant to use out-of-season tomatoes, they have to be imported from out-of-state, and sometimes from outside the country. They are treated with numerous chemicals and fungicides and travel great distances to be placed on your plate. Think of all the fuel used to transport that one tomato. Now think of all the chemicals used to treat that tomato. Those same chemicals enter your body. Those same chemicals cause illness. All that aside, imported tomatoes are tasteless. Another way to think about it: when you purchase foods that are out-of-state or from outside the US, you aren’t supporting your local economy. Purchasing locally grown produce and locally raised beef, pork and poultry (and locally caught seafood), supports the local economy.
When you eat at Commune, you not only support local farmers but the local economy as well. It’s a good cause all around. Not only that, but the food is delicious (if that wasn’t clearly conveyed above), the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed, the servers are friendly and knowledgeable without being overbearing, and Chef Barry was welcoming and was happy to answer any questions we had about ingredients.
Stop in for a cup of coffee, a pastry or crepe or a full meal. You won’t be disappointed.