Nate Tilden's Clyde Common cemented the form of the New Portland restaurant when it opened back in 2007—open kitchen, rustic small plates, meat boards, shared tables and svelte hosts and hostesses who seem like stylish acquaintances disappointed in how you dress. But aside from the busy happy hours fueled by the barrel-aged Negronis and concoctions of bar celebrity Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the Clyde Common formula had gotten so tired as to be lethargic.
Enter Carlo Lamagna. The menu's gotten a full overhaul, doing time between small plates, large plates and a small collection of "feasts." The feasts are family fare, crab bakes and rib cookouts meant for five at a time. But the smaller plates have opened out the menu to include all the world: A quail is spiked with Hong-Kong-style XO sauce, while soft Adelle cheese is served on Turkish lavash bread with honey and fresh fruit.
Meanwhile, Lamagna has traveled home to the Philippines to bring back airy pork lumpia filled out with local shiitakes. The menu is experimental—an octopus dish with blistered tomato and lemon cucumber was unfocused enough to be blurry on one visit, but beautifully balanced a few weeks later—and the happy hour plates for afternoon tipplers are often rote. But Lamagna has added something to Clyde Common's menu it hasn't seen in years: excitement.
Pro tip: Unless there's at least four of you, or you're on a paleo diet and a budget, stay away from the feasts—you'll get a lot of the same thing, and miss out on a lot of flavors.
GO: 1014 SW Stark St., 228-3333, clydecommon.com. 11:30 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 10 am-midnight Saturday, 10 am-11 pm Sunday. $$-$$$.