Pop-Up: Occupy Common 2

Last Tuesday, the Common held their second pop-up event. Showcasing five local chefs, each making one course to complete a five-course meal, I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity despite any set-backs on the last one. Joined by my friend Kelvin this time around, we met up for the 6pm seating.

Occupy Common 2 Menu

I was surprised by the menu at first glance. Each course (aside from desserts) contained a protein! No doubt I would be full this time. It was nice to see familiar chef names and their respective restaurants: Andrew Cowan from 100, Edgar Guiterrez from Tres Carnales, and Jesse Morrison from our host, The Common. The other two chefs I did not recognize, nor their homes: Nathan Saurette from Enjoy Center/Jack’s Grill and Stu Chell from Amber’s Brewing. Either way, I was excited to try each course to see what each chef could offer. I apologize in advance for the less than stellar photos. There was barely any lighting in the corner we were seated at and I didn’t particularly wanted to blind Kelvin with the flash from my iPhone!

1st Course – Andrew Cowan (100)

First course was a pickle brined, duck fat fried chicken with kimchi and honey drizzle. My dish was chicken thigh, whereas Kelvin’s dish was the whole wing. I thought that was interesting as usually dishes are very uniform and (should be) identical. The skin was a little less than crispy but the honey drizzle was a nice compliment. I tasted more of the pickle brine and less of the kimchi, which is perfectly fine by me as a stronger kimchi would take over the dish. It was a solid dish, although nothing mind-blasting.

2nd Course – Nathan Saurette (Jack’s Grill Enjoy Center)

Chef Saurette chose to serve charred brussel sprouts and lentil salad tossed with maple dressing, topped with porchetta and squash bread. This dish was a winner for me. I’m not usually a fan of brussel sprouts, but now I know! Charr them a bit, add a killer dressing and you’ve got yourself a delicious course. The lentils were nicely cooked and added great substance to the plate. Absolutely my favorite of the five courses and even Kelvin was pleasantly surprised. More brussel sprouts!

3rd Course – Edgar Guiterrez (Tres Carnales)

I was looking forward to the third course, presented by Edgar Guiterrez from Tres Carnales. Named in Maclean’s Top 50 Restaurants in Canada 2012, I was expecting great things. I wasn’t let down. Serving us steamed lamb shoulder with tamal de elote, chile de arbol, and pumpkin seed sauce, I dived right into a mash-up of Mexican and American cuisine. The lamb was tender but my favorite was the tamales, a yellow corn-based masa. I’ll admit I don’t have much experience with tamales, but this was yummy! If it’s any indication to what authentic tamales are like (which I’m sure it is), then put me down as a tamales fan. The chili portion overpowered any pumpkin taste that should have been there but I had no qualms about it.

4th Course – Stu Chell (Amber’s Brewing)

By the 4th course, I was feeling satiated. Chef Chell showcased a stout brined corned beef on rye with a waldorf slaw and all-spiced candied walnuts underneath. Perhaps it’s because I’m not the hugest fan of beer that I couldn’t fully appreciate this dish. To me, it felt like just a regular corned beef open-faced sandwich. The slaw underneath needed more dressing, in my opinion, to compensate for the dryness of the rye. Although I did not finish the dish, other tables seemed to enjoy it just as much as the previous courses.

5th Course – Jesse Morrison (The Common)

Last, but not least, our host Chef Morrison presented the dessert course – Shropshire blue cheese with syrup and oat biscuits, rhubarb, celery, and cherries. The rhubarb and cherries must have been in the jam, perfectly sweetened and a great compliment to the blue cheese. The celery was a bit of an oddball but was nice to munch on to clean the palate. I enjoyed this dish, even though blue cheese can be a bit overwhelming for some.

Overall, I thought the dinner was a success! Great dishes and a full stomach. Although the dinner had very little flow from course to course, it’s understandable as each chef was showcasing their own talents and creating their own dishes to their style. Based on what I tasted that night, I most definitely will be trying Chef Saurette’s menu at his restaurant, Jack’s Grill Prairie Bistro at the Enjoy Center, in the near future. Make sure to follow The Common on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with their events! For those interested, there is already a third pop-up planned for November: “Breakfast for Dinner”. Interesting…

The Common
9910 – 109 St
(780) 452-7333Twitter: TheCommonYEG
Facebook: thecommonYEG

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