Date Night: The Common and Holiday Lights and the Legislature

When The Common relocated to the larger storefront on 109 Street in the spring, they took advantage of the space by enhancing their food menu. Although it’s unlikely I would frequent The Common in its nightclub incarnation, as a restaurant, I had been wanting to check out the creative dishes put together by Chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier for some time. Mack and I had dinner there last weekend on a chilly Saturday night.

It wasn’t terribly busy when we arrived, but it did fill up over the course of our meal. The Common is separated into three loosely divided rooms – one anchored with a bar, another with a DJ booth, and the dining space where we were seated. I loved the dining space – well lit, it felt like The Common didn’t have anything to hide. And on the contrary, it illuminated the feminine touches in the crispy black and white room: the wall of gilded frames and leaf-tipped gold light fixtures. It felt intimate, relaxed and sophisticated.

The Common

Interior

Similar to Mercer Tavern, we encountered a drinks menu that was split between vintage and modern cocktails. I tried the Negroni, which probably was better suited for Mack, but fared better with the sweeter blackberry cinnamon mojito.

The Common

Our happy hour

Looking at the menu rife with comforting dishes, it really was difficult to decide – no doubt, we will have to return at least a few times to try all of the items that caught our eye! We ended up sharing the mac & cheese ($8.50). The panko crust was crispy and well seasoned, and I liked the florets of cauliflower buried between noodles.

The Common

Mac & cheese

My chicken & waffles ($17) was a pretty satisfying dish. The chicken was excellent, fried hot, moist, and I loved the sweetness from the blackberry sauce. The waffles could have been a little warmer though, and I thought the goat cheese was unnecessary, and overpowered everything else.

The Common

Chicken & waffles

Mack’s lobster pot pie ($17) was deceiving in size, as by the end, he was struggling to finish the serving. There was a fair amount of lobster, and Mack commented on the depth of seafood flavour in the filling. Mack also loved the side of tomato turkey soup, too cute presented in a mason jar.

The Common

Lobster pot pie

Service was excellent (with a surprisingly good ratio of servers to tables for a restaurant/nightclub), and we felt well taken care of the entire night. With an interesting menu, good execution, and a laid back atmosphere, The Common is another one of downtown’s dining destinations. We will be back!

Afterwards, we grabbed a hot drink from the nearby Starbucks and wandered over to the Legislature grounds. It’s been a holiday tradition for Mack and I over the past few years to take in the beautifully decorated grounds.

Holiday at the Legislature

Holiday at the Legislature

It was a chilly night, so we were grateful that the indoor visitor areas were still open so we could warm up. Mack was a good sport and posted in the Speaker’s chair in the mock government set-up next to the gift shop.

Holiday at the Legislature

Playing the Speaker

On our way home, we made our way through the bedazzled trees once again, losing ourselves in the Christmas music piped through the outdoor speakers. Although the nightly holiday musical performances wrap up on December 23, the lights will be up until early January. Make sure to check them out if you can!

Holiday at the Legislature

The Common
9910 109 Street
(780) 452-7333

Filistix Pop-up @ The Common

I love that food trucks, who themselves are already on the forefront of one of Edmonton’s most exciting food trends, are also the ones actively pushing another movement – pop-up dinners.

Though I know others have also put together these fleeting events, Big City Sandwich and Nomad have been consistent in their off-seasons to make sure diners don’t forget their names. It’s the perfect fit too, in a winter city like ours, for these entrepreneurs to seek out revenue opportunities (on top of catering) to sustain their businesses year-round. Besides, these pop-up suppers add some welcome spice to a time of year when gathering around a table is a welcome respite from the cold.

Two weeks ago, Filistix joined this list of food-trucks-turned-restaurant captors, taking over the kitchen at The Common for one night only. For a value-laden $30, guests would be treated to a five-course Filipino meal, inspired by dishes chef Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafranca grew up eating (they have both been recently named part of the 2012 class of Western Living’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40 – congrats, guys!).

Mack and I secured tickets to the first seating to the sold-out event (to ensure we’d still be able to make it to Latitude 53’s Parka Patio Party afterwards), and found ourselves nearly the last table to arrive.

The upscale lounge fixtures of The Common translated really well into an elegant dining room. The server explained to us that our entrees would be served family-style, which for parties larger than two would seem to make more sense. Still, I appreciated the sentiment behind inviting diners to interact through sharing with one another.

Filistix

Menu

The appetizer was right up Mack’s alley: Pembina pork spring rolls. They were crisp and light, just how they should have been. On the side was a mango and jicama salad dressed with a mirin vinaigrette, fresh and vibrant. I would have preferred a julienned slaw instead of the cubes, but Mack disagreed with me.

Filistix

Pembina pork spring rolls

Filistix’s mains really shone. The Kare-Kare, braised Spring Creek Ranch brisket, was served in a lovely peanut sauce (meaning more for me, as Mack is allergic to peanuts), and the most incredible shrimp paste that elevated each bite with deep umami notes.

Filistix

Kare-kare

Pancit Canton, a fried noodle dish with chicken and shrimp, was succulent with the addition of a second ingredient – pork skin, which added texture and a bit of deliciously glorious fat. I would have wanted some more vegetables, but I’m probably just used to my Mum’s version of noodles.

Filistix

Pancit canton

Our hands down favourite was the Adobung Liempo, a Pembina pork belly that had been marinated then slow roasted for four hours. Garnished with calamansi limes and chillies, the pork was sublime, melt-in-your-mouth tender (we were lucky enough to even score a care package of additional pork to take home!).

Filistix

Adobung liempo

Dessert was a leche flan, a honey-scented version of crème caramel. It was better than those usually found at restaurants.

Filistix

Leche flan

Ariel said that The Common (who will be relocating to the former Martini’s space on 109 Street and 99 Avenue in March) has expressed interest in having them return. I definitely think there’s an appetite for these suppers, and based on our experience, I do hope they continue!

Make sure to keep up with the adventures of Filistix on their website.