Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Common- Edmonton, AB

Currently, Edmonton is having its 10th annual Downtown Dining Week from March 15- 24, 2013. For 10 days of the year, approximately 30 of Edmonton's most interesting Downtown restaurants open their doors to customers for a multi-course meal at a fixed price. Two course lunches are priced at $15 (if you are interested in what the lunch menu has to offer, see the bottom of this blog) and three course dinners at $25 or $50.

For a foodie like me, this is a tempting wonderland. A few of my friends decided to pick a few restaurants to try since this is the first time we've heard of it. The first on the list was The Common. Now, I have been to The Common before and previously had a good experience. The Common is a gastropub, meaning it combines a modern bar with high-end food and drinks. The chef, Jesse Morrison- Gauthier, places an emphasis on seasonal and fresh ingredients.

It was clear upon entering the Common that this was the place to be. The decor was very modern and vintage. As the night progressed, the crowd began to fill with hipsters and young people. The music playing was mostly indie (fitting for a place like this). 

We all decided on the $25 menu (since they don't have a $50 menu), which gives customers the choice of two appetizers and main courses and a standard dessert for everyone. The inspiration for Chef Morrison's menu for Edmonton's Dining Week seemed to have an Asian fusion flare.
Prawns with gnocci
The choices for appetizers were prawns served with gnocchi or frisee salad. The prawns with gnocchi were served in a black pepper caramel sauce with a side of broccoli rabe. The gnocchi pasta was perfectly cooked al dente and the shrimps were nicely seared and plentiful. The sauce had a nice mix of sweet and savory and the broccoli rabe added a nice bitter/nutty flavor. 

Frisee salad
The frisee salad was definitely the better appetizer of the two. It was accompanied by crispy BBQ pork, black lentils and topped with a poached egg and some crushed shrimp crackers (usually served at Chinese restaurants with BBQ meats). The BBQ porked tasted very much like the sweet BBQ pork that you can sometimes buy from Chinatown store windows and was nicely balanced by the starchiness of the lentils. Though the lentils were well cooked and seasoned, I felt that overall there was just too much black lentil compared to the amount of greens in the salad.The crushed shrimp crackers added a nice crunch to the dish overall. The poached egg was cooked perfectly and the yolk, when broken over the greens, really unified the entire dish. Overall, the dish was a nice fusion dish, with just a tad too many lentil beans.

Cod Wellington

For the main course, the choices were Cod Wellington or Veal a la Danoise. The Cod Wellington was prepared in a very similar fashion to beef Wellington and consisted of a fillet of cod wrapped in a light, French pastry. Although both the cod and the pastry were well cooked, I felt overall it lacked any seasoning and was a bit bland. The Cod Wellington was accompanied by raisins, cauliflower, capers, and toasted almonds. I actually enjoyed the sides much more than the main itself: the cauliflower and toasted almond mix actually was a nice combination and had an aromatic, earthy, and nutty taste. The raisins were definitely the highlight of the accompaniment and added delightful, sweet accents to the dish. Unfortunately, the capers - which are a favourite of mine in Italian cuisine - were a little lost in the dish.

Veal a la Danoise
The Veal a la Danoise was served with buttered baby potatoes and a lemon soy spring salad. I was slightly disappointed that there were only two small pieces of veal (like 1.5-2 oz pieces). To my chagrin, the pieces of veal were also overcooked. But, the meat was surprisingly seasoned and spiced well. The potatoes were cooked well and the buttered sauce on top added a nice richness giving them a creamy flavor. The salad added a nice fresh crunch which was also a great addition to its heavier counterparts.

Chocolate Sformato
For dessert, there was only one choice, "a take it or leave it" kind of situation. The meal ended with a chocolate sformato, a less airy type of flourless souflee. The sformato was accompanied by a pistachio sauce and topped with a dollop of floral whipped cream. It sort of reminded me of a uncooked brownie mix. The cake was dense and very moist, but had a strong chocolate flavor. All of us at the table were disappointed with how the meal finished as we were unimpressed with dessert.

Service at The Common was above average. The servers were very friendly and nice. However, we did notice that it did take a while from the time we ordered till the time we got our meal. Time between each course was about 30-40 mins. It was a good thing that we were all just having a good time conversing and not looking at the clock. At the end of the night, we were pleasantly surprised when the waitress apologized for the long wait and stated that she would give us a discount (of 20%) for the inconvenience. 

If you are interested in trying the Common or many of the Downtown Dining restaurants, click here for all the listings and prices.


4/5 Erics

The Common on Urbanspoon

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