Supper Club: Common Bar & Kitchen

It may have just got a flashy new neighbour but don’t overlook Common Bar & Kitchen. Tim Christian found it to be the perfect spot to take his group of visiting friends off the beaten tourist track.

A lifeline for me during the lockdown of 2020 (remember that?) was regular online meetups to play controversial shooter game Call of Duty: Warzone. The initially slightly chaotic lineup for these games eventually settled down into a regular group of about four or five of us who would (virtually) get together at weekends and play and chat.

The other guys in the chat were mostly local to each other in Teeside so when restrictions lifted they were able to meet up – a situation that I was admittedly a tad jealous of. So when the idea was floated for them to come and visit Blackpool I was pretty enthusiastic about it. But where to take them to eat?

I lined up a couple of recommendations I had been sitting on for a while: South American street food bar and kitchen, Common – part of the new range of eateries that make up the St John’s Square-adjacent food scene – and the Jay Rayner-recommended seaside noodle bar, Michael Wan’s Wok Inn, a contemporary spin on the venerable Blackpool institution that is Michael Wan’s Mandarin restaurant (also on the list for future visitation and review). These were both places I was excited about sampling and I’d also put my own and Blackpool’s culinary credentials on the line by bringing in outsiders to try them out.

It’s no doubt an increasingly common phenomenon to meet up with people you’ve only previously known online and you always wonder if you’ll get on as well in person.

The day finally came for me to catch the tram into Blackpool to meet up with my Warzone buddies for the first time and swap war stories over drinks and tacos at Edward Street’s verdantly decorated Common Bar & Kitchen. Decorated on the outside with (admittedly plastic) flowers and vines covering most of the front, the inside has bare brick walls painted with a variety of attractive artworks, authentic-looking posters and corrugated metal panels lit by strings of light bulbs and interspersed with pot plants. All this gives the impression of an outdoor street eatery that their food is based upon. We were quickly seated upstairs and ready to order.

It’s no doubt an increasingly common phenomenon nowadays to meet up with people you’ve only previously known online and you always wonder if you’ll get on as well when it comes to it, but awkward first introductions aside the chat came quickly and naturally, abetted by the application of drink and food.

Ahhh, the food … this guy is finally getting to the point! Common’s South American street food consists of tacos, burritos and nachos, with a number of side dishes available. Like any good group of millennials worth its salt, we had dietary requirements, so one coeliac, one veggie/pescatarian and one undisciplined veggie/vegan curious (guilty). Luckily Common was able to accommodate all of us.

In what might be one of the last non-veggie meals I’ve eaten in recent times I ordered the shredded chicken tinga tacos and between the four of us we ordered an array of sides: the chorizo in red wine and honey, patatas bravas, and paprika fries with aioli to share round the table, along with drinks, including some pints (#LadsLadsLads) of Common’s own lager.

Despite being a Friday night, the food was brought out in relatively quick time, served in keeping with the street food aesthetic in metal dishes with paper wraps or plain pots. The tacos were well-filled, with plenty of shredded chicken, sauce and brightly-coloured, fresh peppers and onions. The chicken was tender and juicy (possibly a little too juicy, there was a quite a lot of liquid coming off them – make sure you keep the dish handy, and bearded folk need a ready supply of paper towels), and the freshness of the salsa was confirmed in the eating. The side dishes were equally delicious, the chorizo in particular excellently combined the sharp piquancy of the chorizo itself with a sweetness and richness from the honey and wine, the patatas bravas and paprika fries rounded the meal off with a satisfying savouriness complimented well with the aioli. All round an excellent table of food, and much appreciated by myself and the three tourists.

The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, regularly passing by to check everything was fine, if we needed more drinks etc. The atmosphere was great, welcoming and with a decent balance of being relaxed without feeling like a table of four guys chatting was an imposition on other diners. It was an ideal setting for a pre-night out meal and drinks, but good enough quality for a meal out with friends or a family gathering.

So began a very successful first meet up for me and my Warzone buddies. From there we went on to sample some varied delights of Blackpool’s nightlife, from Common’s sister bar Dirty Blondes to the Galleon and Scream and Shake Horror Cafe. We avoided the Tache and ended up lurking outside Popworld eating cheesy chips (10/10, would definitely eat cheesy chips again) before deciding to call it a night.

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    A hungry guy in search of tasty treats across the Fylde Coast. Additional spicy opinions are also available.

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