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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Common - Don't Fence Me In

The human species has an irascible need to categorize all things, culinary or otherwise. I could categorize The Common as a gastropub. Or gastrolounge. Or restaurant, or pub, or shiny quasi-Victorian parlour-meets-ironic-hipster-glasses. Does it belong here? Does it belong there? And there's the rub.


Though our designation of entities to categories indubitably helps our species make sense of the world, does this practice ultimately aid in our ability to appreciate and understand? With The Common, it serves no purpose to try and put this unique juxtaposition of "historical" and "cool" in an anthropogenic box. 'Tis better to just visit unfettered by expectation. The Common's space is a mix of elegant grandeur, clean lines, incisive lighting and a boppin' soundtrack. Tables are packed and crowds do not thin as the evening wears on. Quite the opposite, actually. We start with a Crown Float. This libation tops half a glass of sweet cider with a rich umber stratum of Guinness. This cleverly two-toned creation ever so slowly gradates from bitter to sweet.


A cartoon-bright plate of Arctic Char Tartare balances an ocean-fresh mound of seductively tender char with shrimp chips so kawaii that they seem to have tumbled out of an episode of Sailor Moon. The chips' unusual texture is not unlike an edible styrofoam packing pellet, but they comprise an unlikely but addictive vessel for their piscine cargo. A drizzle of wasabi mayo and a tumble of pear salad adds balance.


The Common's interpretation of poutine features crisp and piping-hot shoestring fries generously blanketed with Korean braised pork, squeaky curds, and caramelized onions. The fries retain a commendable level of crispiness, even when their accoutrements have long since vanished. The pork, though it does not taste particularly Korean, is marvelously juicy and illustrates the inherent sweetness that this protein ought to have in any of its many modes of preparation. The cheese curds and caramelized onions are patchily distributed across their landscape of starch and protein , and we pine for more once they've entered the realm of memory. The Common's kitchen is clearly well-versed in the language of all things edible, and the eclectic menu finds a consummate fit in its suave yet venerable lodgings. Need we fence The Common into a category? Absolutely not.


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