The Common is hard to describe. For one, it's a hipster's heaven. Eclectic, vintage decor with an equally trendy, young downtown crowd. I'd bet that 50% of the males in the restaurant had at least a man bun, a beard, or both.
But to their credit, The Common is not pretentious at all, and I think that's what makes this self-described gastro-lounge "cool."
Located in between a tire shop and a liquor mart, the restaurant doesn't exactly stand out along 109th street. In fact, it's a bit unassuming. Parking is also extremely rare in these parts, as I found out when circling around the area twice, finally settling for a parking spot 4 blocks away... After working a full day without any lunch break, I was definitely #hangry when I finally walked through the doors.
We came by on Friday mid-afternoon around 3:45 and the place was decently full. We were celebrating AL and KN's last weekend of freedom as they start school a week early ahead of everyone else (losers! lol jk, don't hate me).
The Common is known for offering elevated comfort food, serving both a lunch and dinner menu, with lunch ending at 4:00. More popular items (such as their famous chicken and waffles) are served all day, but their dinner menu certainly has more appetizers to choose from, as well as heartier entrees.
Do note that the restaurant is 18+, and the waitstaff checked our IDs even when we didn't order any drinks. I bet I'll be asked for my ID until I'm 30 at least. Perks of being Asian?
Since I was running a bit late, AL and KN went ahead and ordered a half portion of the Cheddar Poutine ($11.00 / half portion $8.00) to share. The poutine had Quebec curds, Irish cheddar, green onions, and white gravy smothered over top. The cheddar was a bit of a surprise, and at first glance looked like tiny cubes of cantaloupe. The portion was a bit on the small side, but it is the half portion, so I can't say what the size of the full dish would be. The poutine was not overly salty and the fries were tasty enough, but the dish could probably do without the green onion. No green stuff in my poutine please!
For the main event, AL and I both chose the chicken and waffles ($17.00), which had bacon waffles, blueberry ancho sauce, goat cheese, and watermelon. This is pretty much the signature dish of The Common. The bacon waffles were more sweet than I was expecting, but the saltiness of the bacon did make it pair well with the fried strips of chicken. Strips isn't exactly the right word, since the two pieces would probably combine to make one full chicken breast. They were fried well, as the crunchy breading helped seal in the juices of the chicken. Doesn't that sound appetizing? Chicken juices.
I'm great with words.
Moving swiftly on... the blueberry ancho sauce was a bit of an afterthought, but it was also quite sweet. This was also my first time having goat cheese, and surprisingly, I didn't dislike it. The creaminess worked in the dish, although you have to be pretty careful with how much goat cheese you spread onto the waffle or else it easily overpowers everything. The piece of watermelon is also kind of random, but I won't say no to any watermelon.
Overall, $17.00 is a bit pricy for the dish in my opinion, so be sure to come by on a Monday, when the dish is on special for $12.00.
KN decided to be different and ordered the smoked salmon waffle ($14.00). It was an open-faced waffle, with cream cheese spread, trout roe capers, smoked salmon, Saskatoon berries, and red onion. The dish also comes with fries, soup, or salad. KN went with the soup, which the waitress said was a corn chowder, but either she was mistaken about what the soup choice was, or KN was given a tomato soup by accident. Technically the soup could still have corn blended into it, but all she tasted was tomato. Still, KN thought the soup was hearty, and liked the tanginess of the cream cheese paired with the smoked salmon on the waffle. It is a classic combination after all.
Overall, service was nice and attentive. I think I would have to try more of The Common's menu offerings to pass judgement on the food. Other reviewers say it can be a hit and a miss here, but I'm just glad that today was mostly a hit.