Tag Archives: Ottawa

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: 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

 

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.

Tonight! #Streetfight for a #liveable City

She is finally here. Janette Sadik-Kahn New York City’s former Dept of Transportation Commissioner is in Ottawa to talk about creating shared, liveable urban space.

Tonight’s event demonstrates that residents are well ahead of City Hall in terms of  recognizing the need for liveability and vision in designing our city. This talk had to be moved to a larger venue due to interest and at latest count 2000 people are registered.  The free event at Landsdowne’s Aberdeen Pavillion will cover the importance of  providing more room for people, bikes and buses.

Janette Sadik-Kahn Streetfight- Handbook for an Urban Revolution

Image courtesy Ecology Ottawa website

The talk is based on Sadik-Kahn’s vast experience, her recent observations and her co-authored book Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. Note the proceeds of copies of her book on sale at the event will benefit Ecology Ottawa who spearheaded tonight’s talk with various other community groups.

Can’t make the talk or want a taster?  Here is Sadik-Kahn’s TedTalk on YouTube (15mins).

Register for tonight’s free event here.

Ecology Ottawa Hosts – Streetfight: The movement for safer more liveable streets
27 April 2016, reception 6PM, keynote 7PM
Landsdowne ParkAberdeen Pavillion

 

Monstrous, or, the Miscegenation Advantage – Undercurrents 2016

 

An edited version of this review was published by Apt613.ca

Mis-ceg-e-na-tion (noun): the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.

monstrous1Sarah Waisvisz travels a murky, muddled and miss-remembered heritage in Monstrous a world premiere performance at Undercurrents that blends storytelling to dance in Waisvisz search for cultural belonging. Premiering during Black History Month this work comes at an opportune moment offering insight into the baggage carried by many North American’s in relation to cultural identity.

Monstrous explores, from mostly a personal perspective, the lost history of stolen and exiled people whose birthright was clouded by the impact of slavery, the holocaust and enforced displacement.

Born to a family of both the African and European Jewish diaspora Waivisz finds her identity inconsistently, interchangeably and assuredly defined by strangers. Straddling a range of indefinable skin tone somewhere between dark European and light African she is the “ethnic” child while her brother is the blonde “Gerber baby”. Growing up they play slave trader games and no points in guessing how the roles were divided.  As an adult strangers pronounce her identity assuredly and inconsistently: black, white, Israeli, Lebanese, Caribbean, Italian and other. The consistent repeated disassociation coupled with in-family jokes leads Waisvisc to self-diagnose herself as suffering from cultural schizophrenia.

Waisvisc dynamic energy fill the minimalist set where music, projection and dance illustrate a global trek as stories, anecdotes, lies, hearsay and research are pulled from this trunk of family history.

Africa, Europe & Martinique all figure  large in the exploration of a family’s legacy. Waivisz’s multilingual talents and her choice of French-language music serve this production well emphasizing the international scope. “Pourquoi tu n”habite pas ici tati?” gives an authenticity to this self-reflective production.

She travels to Martinique, where her parents first met, and remarkable silhouetted shadow-play on evocative projections linking sensory impacts – sound, sight, taste – with the cultural sense of self – “I want to remember everything – how do I know I will ever return”.

monstrous2Stories and research are played out through song, chalk maps and dance episodes so masterful that the room burst in to spontaneous applause. Through her performance and a vibrant selection of projections Waivisz takes us from Africa to Martinique, to Ottawa, Rotterdam, Paris, Ferney and beyond.

How do you define yourself when your cultural identity is blurred? Take a trip with Monstrous to decide.

Undercurrents
February 10-20, 2016
Arts Court
2 Daly Ave

 

 

Freezing Seasonal Theatre @The Gladstone

An edited version of this review was published by APT613.ca
Warm temperatures haven’t put a thaw on unbridled icy enthusiasm as Freezing  returns to Ottawa “Bigger, Bolder… Colder” for its second seasonal run at The Gladstone Theatre.

From the opening parody song and dance number “No business like snow business” the stage is set for a performance both professionally polished and alive with playful humour.

FreezingWill Lamond

Will Lamond delivers a devilish Hans in Freezing

Appropriately for a pantomime the show never takes itself too seriously, convivially embracing the fine tradition of on-stage slapstick coupled with audience participation. Freezing ticks all the boxes of the traditional Christmas panto; parodying an – albeit new – classic, incorporating rollicking song and dance, bringing nonsense and groaner comedy alongside current political references to the fore and including the controversial yet iconic cross-dressing pantomime dame – finely played by Constant Bernard. The dame, facing politically correct challenges, will hopefully survive as the newly-acquainted learn the form springs from the anarchic tradition of carnival subversion at the heart of good panto, but only time will tell.

Set in an icy kingdom Princess Adele (Jessica Vandenberg) is a winter sport enthusiast while sister Hanna (Émilie O’Brien), the bashful bookworm smitten, is by iceman Krisco (Chad Connell).  Matriarch Queen Gerda (Bernard) sits at the helm of this small family and though frequently at comical odds with her daughters a fine stream of girl-power permeates the piece; after all, “it’s 2015”.  Enter the devilishly mischievous Hans (Will Lamond) keen to launch a temperature control app and bring an end to winter unless he can wed Hanna or Adele. Will Hans’ evil plan see him take the hand of one of the two Princesses? With a playful talking Beaver, a subservient Troll and tornados a tap away expect the unexpected.

The audience at the weekend matinee was fully engaged and keen to participate. The crowd that day enthusiastically joined in; booing the villain, cheering the heroes and letting all know if a monster was “behind them”.  At times the unbridled energy made way for a witty adlib.

Festive costumes reinforce the kid-accessibility of the characters while timely political commentary keeps the performance up to date and adult. Musical numbers and choreography are strong and confident– even a duet with a moose is surprisingly winning.

Contemporary political humour was more refined this year; the Justin Trudeau song and dance number and transit message from Jim Watson who “feels our pain” were hilariously executed.  The production, partly funded by donations from Little Italy businesses, did away with heavy-handed plugs integrating a tremendous #ShopLocal homage in a delightfully innovative scene.

Sarah & Matt Cassidy have returned with a refreshed and winning p

FreezingMiniCritics

MiniCritics& Cast

roduction; a panto that deserves to become a new local tradition.

Don’t take my word. In closing I offer the opinions of two 7yr olds “I didn’t like it… I loved it!” and “Double awesome thumbs-up”.

Freezing
The Gladstone Theatre 910 Gladstone Ave.
until January 3, 2016
Click here for showtimes & tickets