Ryan Lowder rode into town four years ago with all the brashness of a born New Yorker. But he was born in Utah.
Nevertheless, he had the chutzpah (kind of a New Yorky word) to open a downtown restaurant, Copper Onion, aiming to please everyone, which it did, then to open a real fusion restaurant (though that was not really a Utahn concept), make it a big success—and then shutter it.
Sayonara, Plum Alley.
Who, anywhere, closes a successful restaurant?
Someone who knows what he wants; that's who.
You see, Ryan Lowder wanted a bar. A real bar. The kind that may be familiar to residents in many U.S. cities (actually, ALL U.S. cities, because who didn't see Cheers?) but sadly is still a novelty in Utah.
Now Lowder has the bar he wanted: license, stock, barrel and glass.
miraculously transformed from a funky Asian mythology to a classic Anglo-American pub with a hipster tinge by Rachel Hodson, designer extraordinaire and co-owner of Edible Wasatch, is going to be a big hit. Family and friends packed it on the preview nights last weekend. Bartenders were shaking each drink with a rapidity and enthusiasm that could only exist in a town where the act of shaking a cocktail for all the world (within the walls of the bar) to see is practically insurrection.
Right there, in front of everyone. No Zion curtain. Because Copper Common is a real bar, for grownups. You can actually see the bar from the street.
That means you don't have to order food if you don't want to, but on the other hand, why wouldn't you want to? Drink and food are inevitable partners; one allows you to enjoy the other so much more. And Lowder's menu runs the gamut of sophistication from his version of Yankee bar classics like chicken wings and deviled eggs to more continental selections like smoked pork rillets and Gran Biscotto ham. Tuna tartare. Shigoku oysters.
The relevant word is nosh. It originally meant just "eat" but has come to mean "eat on a whim," "eat what you feel like," "eat in the moment."
I would say, "eat what the drink makes you feel like eating." And Copper Common's kitchen caters to every taste, whether you're drinking cocktails, beer or wine (on tap, yet.) Like: meatballs, given a Middle Eastern twist with pine nuts and currants. Or a dish of warmed ricotta with mignonette and apple chutney. Lobster spaghetti, the sweet shellfish lumps tangled in light cream with a chili bite.
Yes, it's a long way from peanuts and nachos.
You can go on and make a meal of it with steamed cod or fried chicken; you can go vegetal with fennel en brodo or raw salad. If you're teetering, indecisive, you can follow pairing suggestions: Italian hazelnut chocolate with Guatemalen 23-year solera rum, for instance.
Well. The point of a real bar is that it offers a temporary sanctuary. A place to create your own reality with your own friends, your own choice of beverage, menu and company. One night it's beer and fried chicken; another it's a Fourth Regiment (High West Double Rye, Carpano Antica Vermouth and three bitters--Peychaud's, celery and orange) with smoked portobello mushrooms.
There are no TV's (talk about subversive) at Copper Common.
So the experience is what you make it. All the raw materials are there. Enjoy your freedom. No. Revel in it.