Utah Bites

UNCOMMON APPEAL: Copper Common Gets a Makeover

Copper Common in Downtown Salt Lake has undergone some changes in both decor and dishes, as well as their wine program.


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When Copper Onion restaurant owners Ryan and Colleen Lowder opened their 21 and over Copper Common in the spring of 2014, they raised the bar – so to speak – for bar food in this town. This was a “bar” that was serving things like tuna tartare, ravioli with duck neck ragu, pork rillettes, steamed cod with dashi, and more. It was not your daddy’s bar food.

Well, fast-forward eight years and Copper Common has undergone some changes in both decor and dishes, as well as their wine program. Never ones to rest on their laurels, the Lowders grow, evolve, and adjust, and Copper Common 2.0 is as appealing now as it has ever been. One of the most interesting changes is the selection of natural “orange” and “skin contact” wines from producers as diverse as Ruth Lewandowski in Sonoma and Franco Terpin wines from Friuli, Italy. See this week’s “Sip o’ the Week” column for more info on Copper Common’s beverage program. 

Copper Common employs some of SLC’s most accomplished mixologists, so you should avail yourself of their creative powers and enjoy a cocktail or two. There’s a section of “Neo-Classics” like the Acida Italiana with Gin, Campari, Carpano, egg and lemon juice, traditional cocktails like Manhattans and Martinis, as well as the bar’s signature “Common Concoctions” like Mr. Smith, with aged Jamaican Rum, Zucca Amaro and Carpano Antica Vermouth. 

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The new Copper Common menu offers a little of something for everyone. Those who might just want a nibble to accompany a cocktail, beer or glass of wine might opt for an order Boquerones (fresh anchovies) with toasted sourdough bread & cultured butter ($12); House Pickled Vegetables ($7); or House-Cured Olives & Herbed Marcona Almonds ($7). 

Or, if like me you can’t resist a raw oyster – there are oysters on the half shell from the East Coast and West Coast, for $3.25 apiece and served with classic mignonette. 

There are nearly 20 Copper Common “plates” on the menu which range from tapas-size dishes like the exceptional 24-month Prosciutto di San Daniele with marinated dates ($17) and the popular Smashed Potatoes with Salsa Frita ($7), to larger plates such as Braised Beef with harissa polenta and chimichurri ($24), or Fried Chicken with endive slaw and salted chili. A dish my wife and I really enjoyed was fritter-style fried Polenta Cakes with piquillo pepper and whipped ricotta, garnished with minced chives and shredded parmesan ($11).  

Along with the orange and skin contact wines, Copper Common has a terrific selection of more traditional-style natural wines by the glass and bottle, like the delicious Domaine de la Grand Rouvière Cinsault Rosé from Provence, France. Almost all of the wines on Copper Common’s list come from Italy, France or Spain, with one or two German and domestic wines tossed in for good measure. It’s a very interesting and eclectic wine list that parallels the culinary trend of eating natural foods sans additives and such.

You might not be accustomed to seeing salads on bar menus, but Copper Common has a couple of great ones. I loved the simplicity of the Little Gem Salad, lightly dressed with red wine vinegar and mixed fresh herbs like tarragon ($9). And, the Radicchio Salad ($13) with cauliflower puree, raisins and pine nuts is another winner. Veggie lovers will also find the Roasted Mushroom Toast ($14), Shishitos ($11), and Roasted Cauliflower with tahini yogurt and turmeric dressing ($10) very tempting.

CC Burger

There is one menu item, however, that I am certain I will order every time I visit Copper Common. It’s the CC Burger ($11). Simply put, this is the best burger I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten plenty, including Kobe beef burgers, cheeseburgers with foie gras, and even the famed 21 Burger at the now defunct, once renowned private NYC club. What makes the Copper Common Burger so sensational is the perfect beef blend, combined with a striking simplicity. This is the anti-Lucky 13 burger. As chef/owner Ryan Lowder says of his burger, “We set out to do a very simple, proper burger where the meat couldn’t hide.” Well, mission accomplished. This burger is a thin meat patty composed of local beef and trim from “tenderloins, ribeyes, strips, and brisket,” according to Lowdery, with melted Noord Hollander aged Gouda, black pepper, and pickled onion on a perfect bun. Sometimes, less is more. 

Soft Serve with Cherry & Amaretti

The dessert selection, too, is fun and down to earth. There is a Dark Chocolate Mousse Tart ($7); a Whipped Ricotta Tart ($7); or House Soft Serve Ice Cream ($5). We opted for the soft serve with the addition of Maraschino cherry and Amaretti crumbles, which rounded out our marvelous meal perfectly. 

I really like that Copper Common is a comfy, inviting place where you can belly up to the bar or choose to dine at a quiet table – a great spot for a bar snack and a beer, or an entire meal and maybe a bottle of wine. Again, there is something to appeal to everybody. As with Ryan Lowder enterprises like Copper Onion and The Daily, there is lots to love about Copper Common. There is, however, nothing common about it. It is uncommonly appealing. 

Photos by Ted Scheffler and Courtesy of Blake Peterson/Panic Button Media

Culinary quote of the week:

“At the base level, a burger is a piece of meat and a bun with something on it. It’s simple but it seems to make a lot of people happy.” – Danny Meyer



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Food writer Ted SchefflerOriginally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.

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