Out with the old, in with the new. Last month Ryan Lowder and the Copper Onion crew closed the doors on Plum Alley, even though its success had reached nationwide fame, to open Copper Commons in downtown Salt Lake City. The space–and concept–was revamped into a bar and the menu restructured for gourmet bar food in a small plates-style format.
Copper Common is first and foremost a bar. You must be 21 to enter and the handsome bar, stacked with bottles glowing in the window’s sunshine, is the first thing you’ll notice about the space. They specialize in mixology-style cocktails like the Bourbon Sidecar (Basil Hayden Bourbon, basil, mint, Luxardo Maraschino Cherry, $8), Valentino (Lunazul Blanco Tequila, Campari, jalapeno, lemon and lime, $7), Pomelo (Aperol, St. Elder, Angostura Bitters, $8) and more. All of them are under $9.
In addition to the bar running the length of the space, there are tables and booths of varying sizes plus standing tables, making it a great place for a relaxing drink or a casual dinner. Both times I’ve been were crowded but neither were late enough to catch the drinking-only crowd, so I’m curious to see how the atmosphere will evolve for the bar-only scene.
The food menu covers a lot of ground with a lot of tempting dishes. There are three categories of sizes: Bar Snacks (small nibbles), Plates (larger entree-sized dishes) and Larger (even bigger entrees), plus sides. Bar snacks include everything from Deviled Eggs ($4), surprisingly mousse-like in texture and deliciously tangy; Chicken Croquettes ($6), satisfying the fried category of bar food but somewhat disappointing; zesty House Pickles ($4); spicy Jamison’s Beef Jerky ($4) that was a surprisingly good complement to cocktails; and more.
Our favorite bar snack was the deliciously savory and sweet Lardo ($7), drizzled with honey and walnuts–a must order. We also enjoyed the wonderfully refreshing Oyster Shooters ($8), which Copper Common offers at half price every day until 6 p.m. The Tuna Tartare ($12), with apples, jalapeno, radishes and ginger, was lovely mix of spicy sweetness and the House Corned Beef ($7) was another surprising favorite, delicate in flavor but I liked the preparation.
We also tried the Fried Chicken ($17), under the Larger category, served with mashed potatoes and topped with a chili salad. We discovered that it was still raw (unfortunately after taking a bite). We returned it to the kitchen and minutes later the exact dish was back, having been reheated, garnishes and all. The manager offered to bring us a new dish but we declined, so she didn’t charge us for two of our other plates instead.
For dessert we ordered all three of their selections: the daily selection of ice cream (maple nut; $3), Flourless Chocolate Torte ($7) and the Cookie Plate ($6). The house-made ice cream was a hit and the chocolate torte was a good contrast with its richness although I wasn’t a fan of how hard it was. The cookies were enjoyable. Copper Common also has drink and dessert pairings, from chocolate to cheese and dessert liquors to rare rums. (The Sapore del Piave and Cardamaro, a salty Italian cheese and Italian Cardoon Thistle Amaro, $12, sounds amazing.)
Despite the hiccup with the fried chicken, I was impressed with Copper Common on both occasions I visited and can’t wait to return.
Go to Copper Common for :: a creative drink with a side of delicious food in a bar atmosphere. Notes :: Open seven days a week from 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. Oysters are half off until 6 every evening. Reservations are not accepted yet, but will be soon. They do not have a website (yet) but you can call 801-355-0543 for questions/reservations (when available). Copper Common is located at 111 E. Broadway in downtown Salt Lake City.