First Look: Common Bond Cafe & Bakery in Montrose

Renowned chefs bring kugelhopf and other decadent delights to Houston
May 20, 2014
by Marcy de Luna

Kugelhopf is the star at Common Bond, the highly anticipated bakery and cafe that officially opened its doors today after a week of soft opening. The sophisticated circular-shaped brioche spiked with fancy fruit brandy-soaked raisins takes an orange blossom bath and dresses up in a lavish sugar coat before it meets its fans. One bite is all it takes to hook you on this addictive, decadently delicious treat. You'll be back time and time again to get your fix.

During the soft opening, the kitchen at Common Bond produced more than 100 of these beauties a day, in addition to several other daily breakfast pastries. And yet these tasty morsels consistently sold out by lunch. Making the magic is executive chef Roy Shvartzapel, named one of Dessert Professionals Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America. Shvartzapel's impressive background includes having worked under renown French pastry chef Pierre Herme. That alone makes Shvartzapel a force to be reckoned with, but his accomplished resume doesn't end there. It also includes stints at such notable restaurants as elBulli in Spain, Bouley Bakery and Balthazar in New York, and Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills.

You could get lost in the sea of distinguished culinary pedigrees of Shvartzapel's team, whose loyalty runs deep. All have relocated to Houston to be part of the opening. The staff includes chef de cuisine David Morgan who has worked at the former Cyrus Restaurant in California and at August in New Orleans; executive pastry sous chef Jillian Bartolome, who previously worked at Bouchon and Cyrus; and head bread baker Drew Gimma who counts Bouchon and Per Se in New York as part of his impressive roster.

Common Bond is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 7 AM to midnight. The savory kitchen closes at 3 PM.

Below is a preview of some of the decadent delights that await in Montrose.

1706 Westheimer; 713-529-3535

Why Houston?

After spending 12 years in various cities around the world, chef Shvartzapel, born in Israel and raised in Houston, has made his way back to the Space City. Of Houston, the University of Houston alum states, "Houston is the best barrier for entry with regards to opening a business for the first time. The (low) cost and being raised here made me want to open in Houston. I thought this niche had yet to be represented. And (co-owners) Kathy Sanders and Brad Sanders are from Houston so it's near and dear to all of our hearts.”

The Lines

Lines have been forming at around 6:40 AM for a 7 AM opening time, and wait times run about 45 minutes. "People are caught up in the eye candy. They're interested in the work that we're doing and that's humbling. They want to see, smell and ask questions, and it's necessary for us to take the time to talk to them about what we're doing," says Shvartzapel further stating, "but everyone has been really patient and we're making sure every bite is worth the wait." 

Coming soon, for a minimum dollar amount, you'll be able to call ahead 48 hours in advance for special orders.

More Than Kugelhopf

So many options, so little time. Here’s a compilation of some of the beautiful offerings at Common Bond.

Breads: The list includes country dough, olive walnut, pear and pecan, buckwheat and challah. There are also large flaky croissants in plain, chocolate and fruit flavors like the strawberry, pistachio and almond croissant.

Pastries: Crisp, buttery and sugary, the Kouign-amann, a classical cake from France, is baked until the dough rises and the sugar is caramelized. Don’t forget sweet sticky buns, macarons, tarts and more.

Gelato: Freshly spun gelato is available in four rotating flavors.

Savory Fare

Did we mention there's also a menu of savory fare? Try the hot brown sandwich on a toasted brioche bun, loaded with soft shell crab. Or how about the chicken torta? A harmonious mix of picked roast chicken meat, pickled jalapenos, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole and cojita cheese comes between pieces of housemade telera bread.

Breakfast items include biscuits and gravy, of which Shvartzapel states, "It's super simple, but also the most challenging to raise to a different level. Since most everyone has had biscuits and gravy, we have to make ours stand out by being the best they’ve tasted."

The soft scramble comes with perfectly cooked eggs, risotto-like in consistency, topped with green English peas and tendril pesto. Mix it all together and spread it over the accompanying pair of crisp, buttery toasted baguettes.

Is It Worth It?

You'll marvel at the melt-in-your-mouth pastries and delicious savory fare that are unique to Common Bond, and to Houston. Shvartzapel reminisces, "I used to sit across the street (at Cafe Brasil) and stare at the remains of a burned down building that used to stand on this land. I would think to myself that if I won the lottery, I would open my own place in this exact spot. Well, I didn't win the lottery, but I do now own the place."