Virtuoso: Uncommonly Good
Since opening its doors last year, Common Lot has given New Jersey residents a New York City dining experience without having to travel into the city. The new Millburn-based eatery, opened by the talented duo Chef Ehren and Nadine Ryan, features a carefully curated menu, vibrant ambiance and, of course, mouthwatering dishes. Perfectly crafted with seasonal produce and topped with the couple’s international cooking experience, each dish at Common Lot will send diners on an unforgettable journey.
You both grew up outside of the United States. Why did you open Common Lot in Millburn, NJ?
We decided that the time was right to open our own restaurant, the U.S. seemed like the best fit for us. We looked at several different areas, including Vermont, the Berkshires and NYC. However, we felt Millburn had everything we were looking for and, in turn, felt we had something unique to offer Millburn. The proximally to both NYC and the Paper Mill Playhouse was a big drawcard for us, but in particular, we already knew of a lot of people who regularly traveled into NYC for meals but were very keen to have something more local and with a more globally inspired cuisine.
How did you come up with the name?
We worked very closely with Perky Bros in Nashville on our branding and they assisted us with the naming. We wanted something that reflects our straightforward and relaxed style, but most importantly, we wanted it to reflect our belief that even the most beautifully prepared meal can’t be fully appreciated until people gather to enjoy it. So we feel Common Lot suggests that.
Common is something shared — like a tract of land or a space shared by community. Lot can be either a group of people or an area of land. Cutting a long story short, Common Lot is a shared space serving folks who have gathered together to share and enjoy a good meal.
Tell us your approach to creating a dish.
Our approach to creating a dish starts by being in constant contact with our suppliers. We need to know what’s coming into season, whether it be vegetables, fruit, seafood or meat, and we then want them to source the best available produce for us. From there, we use the formal training and experiences gained from living and working internationally to create a dish that is interesting and exciting. That includes using different spices, combinations of flavors and a variety of cooking techniques.
What can people who purchase your Kitchen Pass expect?
We have only four seats at the Kitchen Pass. You are literally seated right next to the actual pass and look directly into the kitchen where the chefs are preparing and cooking food. You get to see all the action during service. Our concept is that the diner purchases a seat for the evening and then joins us for a culinary ride. Subject to any specific dietary restrictions, we will “feed you” dishes of our choosing. Some dishes might be experimental where we haven’t yet put them up on the main menu, while some might be variations of the main menu. The multi-course tasting menu will be a surprise and is our take on the traditional chef’s table. Since you are seated right on the kitchen, we invite you to interact and have fun with the chefs.
Do you plan to expand Common Lot?
We are so grateful and proud of the reception Common Lot has had. It has been a huge undertaking and a lot of incredibly hard work, not just from us, but from our entire Common Lot team. But that makes it all the more such a rewarding achievement. We will never say never to opening another similar venture if the right opportunity arises, because this is what we love. We are so very fortunate to be able to pursue our passion in this way.