Since moving from 124th Street to a twice-the-size spot just north of the High Level Bridge, The Common has a decidedly new, upscale feel. Rock stars and movie stars, their black-and-white photos in showy frames, match the monochromatic, sleek gastropub.
But, maybe we should write “gastropub” with a capital G, because chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier — who joined the Common a month before the move — has elevated pub favourites to a fine-dining level. For a business lunch, he really ups the ante.
As a pub, it features an unsurprising but comprehensive beer list and a small but solid selection of wines and cocktails; but when it comes to what’s leaving Morrison-Gauthier’s kitchen, it’s hard to think of another local pub or bar that does better.
The umami burger sees steak cut into a square patty to match the shape of focaccia bread and made all the more decadent with truffle oil. The prawns are served with a spicy sriracha mayo, on top of fresh house-made cornbread. And, the lamb hot dog is wonderfully earthy, freshened by an apple-mint slaw that substitutes for relish.
Matching the interior, the desserts are like works of art. A flourless chocolate molten cake sits on a stripe of rock-salted caramel. Crème brûlée is infused with lavender and, just to make you feel like a five-year-old, covered with Pop Rocks candy.
But if I had to pick just one (and, really, you shouldn’t have to; go with a group and try them all), it’s the delicate lemongrass panna cotta, served in a Mason jar with a roast pear. Cut a candy-like sticky piece of the fruit, swirl it in the cool cream, and you have a decadent end to a fine meal.
And, even though the Common transforms into a crowded nightclub on weekend nights, the kitchen remains open till 11 p.m., so you can dig in while grooving to mod classics or electronic beats. (9910 109 St., 780-452-7333, thecommon.ca)