Sandy Hill Book Fair: Tomorrow 9-3

Head over to All Saints Church at the corner of Laurier Avenue & Chapel Street for the annual book fair tomorrow Sunday Nov 13th from 9am-3pm. See your neighbours, browse the books and have a great Sunday in the hood.

pmr-book-fair
click here for legible poster

Common Eatery: Offers uncommonly good fare

Town and Oz were followed by El Camino, Datsun then Pure and Whalesbone opened branches; Elgin street is experiencing a full-on foodie renaissance and it’s latest contender comes in the arrival of new-to-Ottawa gem Common Eatery.

Common EnMasse

enMasse adorns a wall of Common Eatery

The restaurant, which opened several weeks ago, is part of wider collective aptly named Common that includes the Common Concept Shop next door, Le Petit Salon and the Eatery itself only opens in the evening to operate as Morning Owl coffee during the day. The thinking here is an inclusive destination experience and what a pleasure to amble over to browse fashions between courses.

The Eatery fronted by a glass wall overlooking the pedestrian-favorite strip is casual urban-chic with impressively simple design details.  Polished teak chairs flank long shared tables, a bar runs down one side of the restaurant with brushed gold stools from which you can watch mixologists and chefs work their craft. White walls are minimally adorned by internationally renown graffiti artists enMasse (wow!) while oversized wheel-lights hang heavily overhead creating an relaxed loft cum resto effect. Even the well appointed toilets get some clever art that carries the ambiance gracefully throughout.

To the fare: skillfully constructed drinks, paired with a delicate yet ferociously flavoursome menu served at a price point reflective of Montreal and Toronto rather than Ottawa’s frequently overvalued offerings.

Common Some Ting Lemonade

Some Ting Lemonade & elegant teak seating

The cocktails ($9-13) are creative, colourful and complex.  With quality ingredients and skilled staff a well mixed, artistically presented concoction is assured.  There is a range of beers and ciders from $5-$8, a limited yet reasonable wine list and a flute of Veuve Cliquot (hurrah) is an absolute snip at $8.

The menu’s shared dishes are handsomely presented as much a treat to the eyes as to the palate. The varied flavours include seafood offerings, Asian bites, a Caribbean salad, southern vs Korean ribs and a fantastically artistic tenderloin.

Common Wontons

Flashed Wontons

Firm favourites around our table include the vegan Flashed Wontons ($6) –large stuffed wontons with a rich even meaty texture – a lovely and generous shared starter. The Toke salad ($8) offers a burst of fresh flavours with jicama fragrantly sweetened by mango and peppered nappa enhanced with a chilli-ginger vinaigrette and topped with crisp wontons and nuts – conclusion: we could eat a salad bowl full of this outstanding dish, we’ll be back for more and

Common Toke

Toke Salad

surely trying to recreate a version at home.

Squid Ink Ravioli ($12) gets full marks for presentation but was one of the less overwhelming plates with the lobster filling needing greater seasoning however the Crab Cakes ($11) were a resounding win making this late 90’s dish a new star for 2016 in Ottawa. Each delicately fried bite was rich with luxurious crab meat and the accompanying aromatically flavoured mayo a perfect complement. The Scotch-Egg ($6) light, gooey and topped with chorizo was one of the best I have had in the capital. A meaty challenge, the 2-Way Ribs ($12) pitted Louisiana vs Korea in double-header that will delight any carnivore.

Common Ravioli

Squid Ink Ravioli

If this first visit is anything to go by –  and we will be back to ensure the extraordinary quality and price point remain – then rest assured that Common Eatery is uncommonly brilliant and an outstanding choice for a quality evening.

 

 

 

Common Eatery
380 Elgin Street
Monday – Sunday 5PM-Late

 

Fringe 2016: AborAmor

Join Ottawa Stilt Union (OSU) on the Tabaret Hall lawn at Ottawa University for a wordless play cum acrobatic-dance performance that features comedy, love, stilt walking, an accordion player and a towering tree.

ArborAmor1

You’ve likely seen OSU at countless Ottawa events including Canada Day Celebrations as they stride athletically around events engaging with the crowds and delighting kids but they a troupe with many talents; most notably producing quality plays – bilingual and unspoken – hosting the monthly “Youppi Club” at varying central venues across the capital, and delivering acrobatic and stilt walking classes.

AborAmor as the name suggests plays on the themes of romance and nature as two tango dancers struggle to expand their duet to a threesome. Will jealousy rule the day or can love win out? Get yourself down to the lawn of University of Ottawa’s Tabaret Hall for this Ottawa Fringe outdoor performance suitable to all ages, engage with the performers and be enchanted by the whimsy of OSU and AborAmour.

Note as well as a 6PM performance on Friday there are two matinee performances on the weekend perfect for children of all ages.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
ArborAmor
Tabaret Lawn, 550 Cumberland at Laurier/Wilbrod
30 minutes |Comedy | Play/Dance |Family
Friday June 24, 6PM
Saturday June 25, 2PM
Sunday June 26, 3:30PM

Fringe 2016: Small Creatures Such as We

An edited of this review was published by Apt613.
Brace yourself for a tough look at the scars left behind by a cruel adolescence in Small Creatures Such as We, a well written yet painful to watch at times offering by Angels in the Rafters productions.

An unassuming set with a sofa to stage left and a kitchen/bar to stage right provide a simple and effective method for time travel as the actors shift between their 14 and 16 year old selves on the sofa to their present day incarnations a decade later. As the performance unfolds layers past and present are progressively bared, as Kit (Vishesh Abeyratne) and Joanna (Meagan McDonald) travel back and forth between the two “rooms” gradually uncovering achievements, setbacks, fears and their most intimate trials and betrayals.

Kit has Joanna on his mind and, after a 10 year gap without contact he tracks her down for a visit. Reunited after a decade the lifestyle contrast is marked; he’s an accomplished actor while her life is in neutral, stalled, held back by her past and unseen damage.  Kit is tea-total “1 year sober” he tells Joanna as she pours herself strong drinks in quick succession. For Kit the time has passed quickly while Joanna “has felt every minute.”

The memory scenes coupled with a strong chemistry between the actors creates a believably convincing bond that begs the question as to why they’ve kept their distance.  Touching language mimics emotions: “I’ve been looking out for you” says Joanna while Kit confesses that during tours “I’d look out for you.”

A gradual and thoughtful build up to complexity of the piece swells the audience’s insight as the performance moves back and forth in time exposing glimpses of childhood and adolescence constructing a solid and compelling base that makes the viciousness that unfolds all the more tragic.

At times Fringe works aim for shock value however in Small Creatures Such as We the jolts are miles away from gratuitous; rather there is a sense of universality like exposing a disturbing truth or buried memories.  The authenticity is partially due to attentive crafting; thoughtfully constructed complex characters out of what could easily be unsympathetic personalities. It is also largely down to the sincere, never-overwrought, performances put in by McDonald and Abeyratne who bring an attentive realism to their roles.

There are improvements that should be considered, including a desperately needed redaction of the final line, but the writing in the whole is so very good, the subject matter admirably handled and the performances so true that it really should deserve a spot on the must-see Fringe list.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
Small Creatures Such as We
Academic Hall 133 Séraphin-Marion
June 15-26, 2016

 

Fringe 2016: In Waking Life

An edited version of this review was published by APT613

In Waking Life is a lively two-handed improvised performance piece that successfully mixes banter, musical numbers and audience participation. It’s an overblown fortune-telling romp celebrating off-the-wall humour and oddities.

In Waking LifeThe Norwegian-born psychic Synsk sisters, raised by a mother goat and surrounded by “family members” made up of a crystal ball, uncle 8-ball and the many cutie-catcher cousins are here in Ottawa to share their visions and delve in to their audience’s future. The Bring-Your-Own-Venue location in the basement of the Royal Oak on Laurier St E lends itself perfectly to production providing a cozy, old-world setting as the heavily-accented psychics “velcome” their clients.

 

The structure of the play has enough hooks to provide consistency in the quality of the improvisations and the performers easily stepped in to the breach when the audience members were slow to respond. Creator/performers Monica Bradford-Lea and Lauren Welchner bring unbridled energy to their character performances. Welchner’s Cora is manic and forthright while Bradford-Lea’s Garnish is all airy-fairy scatteredness and together both are side-splittingly funny.

It’s a cavalcade of non-stop action that appears random but is planned and execute well in a seemingly haphazard manner that suits the characters and engages the audience. One attendee was comfortable enough to share a Guinness session that led him to pee in his own luggage so disarming is their appeal. Another particularly memorable scene had the sisters reading astrological texting advice from AstroGirl magazine which as they will be very pleased to tell you is “so stupid, but so fun.”

Dreams are dissected, love matches made, questions answered and fortunes told as the Synsk Sisters deliver a truly one-off psychic experience like you have never seen.

Previously improvised performance pieces leave me cold but with the Synsk Sister In Waking Life you’ll have a ball.…

Produced by Amped Up Theatre
Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
June 15-26, 2016
BYOV – The Royal Oak 161 Laurier St E

 

Fringe 2016:Well isn’t this super… (Marvellous Man IV: The Return of Marvellous Man)

An edited version of this review was published by Apt613

A rather sophisticated story with sweet perspective shifts Well isn’t This Super… exhibits an impressive maturity by Dead Unicorn Ink while their irreverent edge remains firmly intact. In the amusing opening sequence, a Tinder hook up reveals itself to be the set of a superhero movie. The production shifts between the on-set film, with actors in character, to characters with real-life struggles trying to make their professional mark.

Well-Isnt-This-Super...-375x375Newcomer Nikki Reilly is trying desperately to establish her character Mystic Quartz as a viable superhero lead alongside the eponymous star of the Marvellous Man franchise Dan Stevens and cheering frat-boy Director Michael Cove. Corseted, in stilettos and a mini-skirt it is when the director yells cut that the misogyny at the heart of the piece really comes to the fore.  Dismissed and marginalized, Dan even refers to her as “tits”, Nikki has visions of a strong independent female superhero and a possible spin-off franchise.

Pace and comedy keep the storyline brisk despite the characters’ struggles with casual, even institutionalized, sexism and the insincerity of the Hollywood promise. Creator Patricia Forbes does an admirable job providing serious content with no heavy lifting required by the audience.  The writing is crisp and action swift as it moves from between-scenes conversations to on-camera sequences with over-the-top hokey dialogue and a very winning super villain. It’s an ensemble piece where everyone pulls their weight. The roles of Nikki and Dan are assuredly strong while Len, the androgynous runner, provides a delightful performance where an alliance is counter-balanced by personal aims reflecting the narcissism through-out the piece. The cast are accomplished and deft throughout delivering a brilliantly performed work.

As the production plays out there are more twists and turns as each character tries to solidify their own position to the detriment of their colleague. Who ends up on top remains to be seen in this trust-free environment.

Book in early for “Well isn’t this super…” as it has the hallmarks of a festival favourite.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
Well Isn’t this Super…
BYOV Nostalgica Café 601 Cumberland St.
June 15-26, 2016

 

Eye Spy: Yoga in the Hood

A local complement to ‘yoga on the Hill”, Sandy Hill is now fortunately funky and excited to welcome “yoga in the Hood”!

yoga on taberet

Yoga on Tabaret lawn – photo courtesy Twitter.com/uOttawa

The weekly Monday noon hour class is held outdoor on Tabaret Hall lawn hosted by the wonderfully skilled practitioners at Elevate Yoga on Elgin St.

Classes are hosted by a variety of teachers so you can expect a different challenge and focus at each session. Here is a link to the full schedule.  Hopefully these free sessions will bring new converts, provide a quick practice for the dedicated and reawaken the passion in some who have simply not kept their practice up.

To borrow Elevate’s Twitter hashtag, #GetBentDoYoga. See you locally on the lawn.