What Happened to Commoner & Co?

Sad to say the last time Mr. Sunny was home for the weekend (he works away from Tucson) we had two less than stellar experiences. I wanted to wait a little before I shared so I could be a bit more objective and less Debbie Downer. Today I’ll talk about Commoner & Co and maybe next time I’ll bring myself to tell you about the other disappointment.

trout at commoner
When we came out to Tucson for our house-hunting experience in June 2016 we “discovered” Commoner and Co on Sunrise and Kolb and we were wowed with the entire experience. From the friendly greeting to the top notch service to the ah-maz-ing real Southern fried chicken we were thrilled. We talked over our craft cocktails about this being our new favorite go-to once we moved.

Sadly, since then the service has taken a dive and the food is mediocre at best. The cocktails are hit or miss. This has been a slow decline and I’ve been holding a candle for them to turn it around for at least a year. Harboring the hope that we would be pleasantly surprised I charmed Mr. Sunny into heading over to Commoner on a recent Friday night.

We noted that the side porch was closed off and the dining room, while filling up, was not packed. The bar was full and the greeter told us we’d enjoy the dining room although we were leaning toward the bar area.

Our server was a pleasant young woman with a smile who took our drink orders and returned within a few minutes with them. No problems there and I was hopeful for a great meal.

I ordered the trout special and Mr. Sunny ordered “The Suit,” the Commoner’s name for a hamburger and fries. Mr. Sunny is a simple guy and always gets a plain burger, cooked Medium to Medium well with nothing on it except bacon. No mayo. No ketchup. No tomatoes….you get the picture.

Bread was served and finished quickly and when asked if we wanted more, we agreed that would be perfect. It never came.

The entrees were delivered in a reasonable time frame and my trout was fine but a bit salty and dry. As though it had been pre-cooked and then reheated. It wasn’t awful and although it wasn’t as innovative as I’d hoped it would be based on it’s delicious description I was happy to eat it. Mr. Sunny’s burger arrived with cold fries. As though they’d been on someone else’s plate, returned to the kitchen and then shifted to his as his burger was plated. The server came around to check on us about 5 minutes after the food’s arrival and we requested hot fries. She offered to just bring more fries but we asked that the meal be replated with fresh fries.

Fresh fries arrived and Mr. Sunny cut into his burger which was a perfect example of medium rare. This was a burger I probably would have loved (lots of red juice and a red middle) but definitely not a medium to medium well cook. Look, I hear that chef’s aren’t fond of cooking meat until it looks like shoe leather (and I feel that way too) but the man likes his burger to look like it’s not mooing.

We couldn’t find our server so we motioned to the — expediter? floor manager? person walking around the dining room filling water…and told her the burger needed to be re-fired. By now, I’ve been eating my trout without complaint, we’ve noted that we never received that refill of bread and I’m both frustrated and embarrassed by the whole situation. I don’t really like to cause a scene and have issues with asking for what I need, so this was a great opportunity to support Mr. Sunny as he asked for what he wanted (and was going to pay for). Sadly I realized this would likely be our last trip to Commoner, my high hopes had been shattered.

Eventually the burger returned with fresh fries and I waited as Mr Sunny ate half the burger and took the remaining portion home for the dog.

When it finally came the burger was fine. Our server was pleasant and did her best to accommodate our requests for the meal to be prepared as requested. Commoner comped the burger and we tipped based on what would have been the full amount of the meal. Still, with so many innovative and customer-obsessed options in town we won’t be spending time or money here for a long time to come.

Commoner and Co is located at 6960 E. Sunrise Drive. Call for hours, it’s often closed when you expect it will be open.

Lunch Bunch at The Dutch

It’s really cozy and industrial inside The Dutch Eatery and Refuge. What’s that? You say the two things don’t go together. You’re wrong.

Arriving about 30 minutes early, I was greeted by a positively fun young woman and shown to our table. Although the website states you’ll need your entire party to be present before seating, it wasn’t crowded at opening and our table for 10 was pre-set in the center of the restaurant. The tables are rustic and the chairs are solid and hard to slide in and out, which I’m guessing would be perfect if you had little ones along for your meal.

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The menu is a perfect mix of specials, sandwiches and breakfast – but it’s not overwhelming. Which is good considering the kitchen appears to be just what you see at the end of the above picture.

Just behind the kitchen is a pot-washing spot and down the hall a bit you’ll find the restrooms. There were stairs leading up above the large refrigerated room (for their extensive craft beers) but since it included a steel, spiral stairway my guess is that there is no food coming down from there.

I opted for Uitmijiter, aka the Dutch Breakfast and although I also wanted the Poffertjes (Dutch Pancakes which sounded a great deal like Swedish pancakes – a family favorite) and the Patat Oorlog (war fries) — why are they war fries? Would you go to war for the fries?

I was very happy with my selection. The eggs were over medium piled on top of thinly sliced ham and multigrain bread. (My bread didn’t seem toasted, which was okay with me, but if you prefer toast, you might want to specify that.) All this was topped with seriously fresh tomatoes (where do they get them?!) and melted cheese. I managed to eat a third of the meal and brought the rest home. (by the way, the leftovers were awesome warmed up on the grill on a sheet of aluminum foil).

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Here are just a couple of other meals ordered by my table- mates.

On the left, the Breakfast Flatbread with salmon, avocado and herbed cheese, and on the right the Cubano Sandwich loaded with pork, ham gruyere and pickles.

All the portions were oversized and every person in our group was happy with their selection.

Having only eaten a third of my meal I had plenty of room for dessert. Which was a problem because once again I wanted one of everything.  I opted for the Authentic Stroopwafels which came with a side of ice cream. They were warm from the … what does one make a stroopwafel in? A stroopwafel maker? Anyway they were warm, appropriately gooey in the center and the powdered sugar was literally melting into the waffle grooves. Others at the table ordered the Caramelized French Toast Ice Cream sandwich. (OMG! so good) and The Dutch Apple Pie, complete with a shortbread like crust and raisins. I did have a taste of each and I can assure you that any one of those options is the right choice. (Yes, that’s a piece of caramelized french toast on top of my stroopwafel).

Top off the meal with the fact that the service was stellar, the decor was delightful and Turner Classic Movies was playing North by Northwest on the bar TV and I can assure you I’m looking forward to another trip to The Dutch Tucson!



The Dutch Tucson is located in Main Gate Square 943 E. University Blvd. (right by the streetcar stop and across from the UofA campus)
Check out the seasonal menu on their website.

Open M-F 10 am til and Saturday and Sunday from 8am until late.

Parking can be a bit iffy in the area – there are meters nearby and the restaurant validates the Tyndall parking lot after 5pm.

 



 

 

Bye-Bye 30

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Before I left Virginia I weighed 35 pounds more than I do today. I’m not saying that to imply that simply moving to Tucson was a magic elixir that melted away that weight.

The connection exists though.

Although I had long dreamed of moving to Tucson (the mountain,she called to me) when the time finally came I froze. I’d spent 30 something years in the DC metro area and everything I knew was there. There were so many memories there that it was hard to imagine a life where I had to start over – mountain notwithstanding.

Mr. Sunny pointed out that we’d made a commitment to ourselves and it was time to choose to stick to it. He had a point. I did my part to pack and sell and get in the car with a dog (he took the other in his car) and drive out here.

That was the big choice.

To stay put where it was comfortable – surrounded by the people and places I knew or to pack it up and head out to live a dream.

When it came time to face my health and vanity I knew I had to make some choices and I could hang out with the excuses and the comfort in being uncomfortable in my body or I could choose another option.

A year into life here in Tucson and I chose something different. (It took nearly that long to face and reject my excuses.) I reminded myself that I could do hard things and that I could choose a different lifestyle.

Still, I wanted to eat what I wanted and more or less when I wanted. I needed the flexibility to go out to all the amazing restaurants and bars that Tucson has to offer without feeling guilty or “bad” for eating out.I did my research and found a lifestyle that works for me and I’ve made new and different choices along the way.

Mostly I choose to save my points for wine 🙂 but I still get to choose.

One of the things I most want to share here are the ways you can enjoy all the food and drink offered in The Old Pueblo even if you’re trying to keep your figure.

I’m excited to share the journey as I maintain my current weight no matter where I go or what I eat!

Hotel Congress – Midweek Lunch

We took a jaunt downtown to get a feel for the area and to finally visit the historic Hotel Congress.

I’m a sucker for old hotels, may be a throw back to my years in hospitality sales and marketing – I’d love to go see the old properties that had been abandoned and were in the midst of major renovations. Such a cool sense of “if these walls could talk” you know?

There always seems to be some energy hanging around in old buildings and Hotel Congress is no different. Do I think it’s haunted? No idea. But like I said, old buildings, with old furnishings pique my imagination and being so close to Halloween, I wasn’t against imagining the building in an earlier time, filled with visitors passing through Tucson via the train that stops across the street.

Alas, there were no ghosts to be found in the Cup Cafe during lunch. Which is fine since I had no desire to share my Rachel sandwich!

The Space

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Before I tell you about my meal let me share a bit about the ambience in the Cafe. Despite the modern touches – metal shelves behind the bar with a nice rusty patina, and the super cool wine bottle chandeliers, you can still feel the bones of the Hotel Congress Cafe as it stood in the 1940s. The space is actually two separate rooms, with a step down in between. When you walk in you get to ogle the pie and dessert case that is filled with temptation. The dining is space is tight, definitely not where I’d go for a romantic tete a tete, but perfect to get a feel for the variety of patrons that frequent this landmark.

Oh, and don’t forget to look down that delightful copper penny floor that made it’s debut around 2005.

The Food

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I’m a quest for the best pastrami every where I go and I was not disappointed at Hotel Congress.

The Rachel is described on the menu as “house-cured pastrami, Gruyere cheese, pepper slaw and Russian dressing on marble rye.” What they don’t tell you is that that whatever they’re doing to cure their pastrami is like a bit of magic that comes from a smoker. This was one of the best tasting pastrami sandwiches I’ve ever had – and I grew up in Jersey, spending plenty of time in New York City’s delis

The fries were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned perfectly.

The only thing I’d do differently is order a Bloody Mary the next time I’m there. I watched the bartender make a few and I was sorry that I stuck to water. But there’s always next time!

The Hotel Congress is located at 311 E Congress Street, Tucson 85701

The Cup Cafe opens at 7am and prices range from $5.00 – $14.00 for breakfast and lunch.

What’s your favorite thing about Hotel Congress? I’d love to hear.