From high-end restaurants to cozy diners, the winners in the first Garden State Culinary Arts Awards reflect the state’s amazing dining diversity.The Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick won for Best Restaurant, Drew Araneo from Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport won Best Chef, while Common Lot in Millburn took Best New Restaurant honors… Read More
HAMILTON, NJ – Common Lot of Millburn was named Best New Resturant on Saturday at the Garden State Culinary Awards. The original candidate list was released in February, and then the top three vote-getters in each category were announced in April. The candidates are voted on by about 100 independent judges from around the state – journalists, food writers, cookbook authors and other culinary experts… Read More
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
When it comes to selecting cheese, I have two options: extra cheese or extra, extra cheese. As sophisticated as my process sounds, it’s evident that my affinity for cheese clouds my decision-making skills. Fortunately, there are individuals whose job is to guide people like me through the over 650 varieties of cheese, and Nadine Ryan is one of them.
In addition to owning Common Lot Restaurant in Millburn, New Jersey with her husband, Ehren, Nadine holds a cheese sommelier certification from Wifi Hohenems in Austria. Most of us are familiar with wine sommeliers, but cheese sommeliers are somewhat rare in the United States. Nadine received her certification abroad in 2007, but the certification exam was not available in America until 2012. In fact, less than 1,000 individuals hold the title in the U.S., but Nadine’s Austrian roots are helping to boost those numbers…READ MORE
Thank you Inside Jersey for featuring us in the 30 Best Meals Edition!
Here is a look at the cover: http://sections.nj.com/SS/Page.aspx?secid=160785&pagenum=25&sstarg=&facing=false&
Here is a look at the feature: ttp://sections.nj.com/SS/Page.aspx?sstarg=&facing=false&secid=160785&pagenum=29
We are so thankful and honored to have our own Chef/Owner Ehren Ryan’s recipes featured in Millburn-Short Hills Magazine on pages 40-41.
You can find the feature here: https://www.joomag.com/magazine/millburn-short-hills-magazine/M0237124001449177600
True voices in restaurants are in short supply. That is sad. Many diners don’t even know, let alone understand, what a voice in food is. They should come to Common Lot, to learn.
Cook fingerling potatoes, for example, in lamb fat, and that diner will be educated. Duck fat is the fat du jour, has been for more than a decade now in progressive restaurants. But lamb is inherently gamey, and potatoes, a crop that does best in cold weather climes, gain a brave new soul when cooked in something heartier, meatier than the fat of duck. We learn, then, through the Ryans’ rendition of this cunning “small-to-share” starter plate, that meat-and-potatoes, the Germanic-influenced mid-20th-century essential supper of suburban America, how the most basic of the basics can evolve. There is a bit more on the plate to emphasize the evolution: a wash of creamy, rich burrata, of piquant onions, and a little shrapnel—mere shots—of bacon marmalade to set the dish squarely in the 21st century… READ MORE
We are so honored and thrilled to be included in the NJ Monthly Top 25 Best Restaurants for 2016!
Thank you so much NJ Monthly! This is a huge achievement and we are so proud of the entire Common Lot team.
And we were delighted to host Janice Huff for the photo shoot at Common Lot! It was great to meet you Janice !
Two visits to Common Lot, a new restaurant in Millburn, convinced me that Ehren Ryan, an owner and the executive chef, is among the most talented cooks in the state. By May, only eight weeks after it had opened, Common Lot was booked for every seating on Friday and Saturday nights through July, and the restaurant does not take reservations more than 60 days in advance.
Mr. Ryan, 31, and his wife, Nadine Ryan, 27, the other owner and the manager, took three years to realize their vision. “We threw everything that we had into it — savings, inheritance and all that we had earned in 14 years of working,” said Mr. Ryan, who was born in Australia and worked his way up from dishwasher at age 15 to chef positions at Dinner by Heston and Sketch, London restaurants that have each received two Michelin stars. Ms. Ryan, a graduate of hotel management school in Austria, earned a certificate as a cheese sommelier in Europe and is devoted to tea. Note the spectacular Cynthia Rowley cups in which some of her teas may appear… Check out the full story here: NY Times Common Lot Review
Millburn’s new contemporary restaurant, Common Lot, has received glowing reviews recently from The New York Times and New Jersey Monthly. The Times’ food critic Fran Schumer praised every aspect of the restaurant in a July 15 review, saying its appeal was “irresistible” and giving Common Lot the paper’s highest rating, “Excellent.”
NJ Monthly’s food writer Eric Levin wrote in the July issue that the globally inspired food was a “marriage of old and new [that] works.”
Both reviewers spoke highly of their experiences meeting owners Ehren and Nadine Ryan and learning how they landed in Millburn. The Australian and Austrian natives moved to New Jersey to stay close to family and pursue their dream of opening up a restaurant of their own… READ MORE
Ehren and Nadine Ryan (he from Australia, she from Austria) bring uncommonly good food to Millburn. Why : Family.
FOOD New American
AMBIENCE Casual, comfy, quietly hip
SERVICE Informed, responsive and enthused
PRICES Small plates, $5-$18; big plates, $22-$32; mains for two $75-$80; desserts, $10
OPEN Lunch, Wednesday-Saturday; dinner, Tuesday-Saturday
27 Main Street 973-467-0494 commonlot.com
Servers appeared to be shaking cocktails tableside as we entered Common Lot in Millburn for our first visit. I admired their technique: arms high, hands a blur. But what they were shaking turned out to be… brown paper bags. And, Common Lot being a BYO, what each server poured out was a glistening mound of potato chips.
This $5 Bag of Egg and Crisps—the first item in the Smalls to Share column—comes with a bit of theater, which is one reason many tables order it. The server brings over a plastic-lined paper bag and a white bowl containing a slow-cooked, soft egg. The jiggly white blob is ceremoniously dumped into the bag, which holds a heap of crispy, house-made potato chips.
“Don’t try this at home,” quipped our server, sealing the bag and hitting max-shake mode. The chips tumbled out, lightly yolk sheened and flecked with white. On another visit, slightly fewer chips in the bag made for a richer, more sybaritic glazing. Both times, we got more than $5 worth of fun and flavor.
This funky starter contains a clue. Crisps, of course, is what Brits call potato chips. Common Lot’s chef, Ehren Ryan, a native Aussie, earned his spurs cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants in London. He and his wife, Nadine, an Austrian, met in 2010, when they worked at the luxury Atlantic Hotel on the British isle of Jersey in the English Channel.
The starter is a conversation starter, too, intended to kick off the convivial sampling for which Common Lot’s menu is designed. Conviviality is built into the restaurant’s design as well, with natural materials, wide aisles, larger-than-usual tabletops, a bit more elbow room between them, a common table, plus an open kitchen with four plush armchairs along the counter. The name of the 4-month-old restaurant, the Ryans’ first, is a Brit-speak mashup, combining the idea of “common” (public) “lots” (areas) with the slang of “you lot,” the equivalent of “you guys.”
NEW ARRIVALS Opposite page, co-owners Ehren and Nadine Ryan in front of the communal table. Center, beef tartare with grilled, house-made sourdough bread.
The Ryans, who wed in 2014, draw inspiration from all the places they’ve worked or visited, from their native lands to Canada, Japan, France, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Indonesia.
“We are not fusion,” Ehren says. “We use flavors that people are getting to know and like. We strive to do interesting and fun things and cook what Nadine and I like to eat.”
That last part—its frankness and simplicity—is almost a badge of honor for their peripatetic generation of cooks and restaurateurs. Fortunately, Ehren, 31, and Nadine, 27, have adventurous palates. Ehren’s best dishes are intensely flavorful, complex and detailed. Yet their balance and focus make them seem less exotic, more like stuff you’d gladly eat every day.
This page, the counter, with four plush armchairs facing the open kitchen, where light pours in from wrap-around windows.
One such treat, for which you can thank Nadine, is Ehren’s particularly toothsome beef tartare. (“Nadine loves beef tartare,” he says. “She’s always nagging me to put one on.”) He hand-chops filet mignon from DeBragga, spikes it with pickled shallots, garlic oil and gratifying dollops of caramelized black-garlic aioli, and adds sesame seeds for textural contrast.
Common Lot’s poached chicken roulade reverses the trick, making the everyday exotic. My eyes rolled when our waiter promised it would be “like the best chicken salad you ever tasted.” He was wrong. The discs of creamy, flavorful meat served with salsa verde, lemon pepper and crackly bits of chicken skin, were even better than the best chicken salad I’ve ever tasted.
These dishes and others (like roasted heirloom carrots with yogurt and pumpkin seeds, and charred broccolini with chili and charred lemon) turn the Smalls to Share column of the menu into a hit parade.
The next column, called Bigs, delivers flavor and satisfaction worthy of its name. Earthy morels and chanterelles keep ethereal butter-poached halibut from drifting away like an untethered balloon. But if I had just one Common Lot dish to eat every day, it would be the intensely luscious duck leg ragù with gnocchi and shiitakes. The ragù slow-simmers onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes, per tradition. But, says Ehren with a chuckle, “if an Italian saw the recipe, they’d freak, because we reduce two or three cans of Guinness for the ragù instead of wine.” This kind of globalization is a good thing.
Below, simmering, charring, broccolini on the grill. Bottom, a waiter plops a soft-cooked egg from a small bowl into a plastic-lined bag of house-made potato crisps.
He’ll shake it up, comes eggycrunchy crisps, fun for all, even the waiter.
Speaking of global, you might be wondering how this well-traveled couple wound up in New Jersey, specifically Millburn. The short answer is that in 2006 Ehren’s parents moved from Sydney to Harding Township when his father, a partner in an international law firm, took a position in the firm’s New York office. Harding is about 12 miles west of Millburn, and Ehren’s parents have many friends in the area.
Ehren and Nadine, wanting their own restaurant, had priced the project in Australia, Austria and New York. But the only place that seemed affordable—and near family—was suburban Essex.
“My parents have friends in Millburn, and we walked around with them,” Ehren says. “They said they desperately need a restaurant there; they’re tired of going to New York for food.”
NO CUTTING CORNERS Inside the renovated building are delights like chicken roulade and, bottom, braised lamb shoulder with rice, cashews, lettuce and soy caramel.
Friends of Ehren’s parents own what was a decrepit old building at Main and Essex Streets. “They were going to demolish it and put in apartments. We put our concept forward. It was very businesslike.” The owners renovated the exterior, while Ehren and Nadine sank everything they had into redoing the interior.
Guess which Common Lot dessert is a nod to Aussie and British tastes. Not the lemon semi-freddo, not the chocolate mousse. It’s the rice pudding. “It’s my mom’s favorite dessert, and a childhood memory for me,” Ehren says. He serves it warm, which is traditional, but with pistachio gelato, which is not. As with so much of Common Lot’s menu, the marriage of old and new works.