The Common, a beloved little cafe just east of Dufferin on College, is terrific evidence of an evolving neighbourhood; one that has changed a lot in recent years but still manages to maintain its low-key charm and tight-knit vibe.
Back in the days when Ossington was just a bus that I took home, not a whole lot was happening over on this end of College Street. Five years later, the neighbourhood is something of its own destination, and the result is a never-ending bloom of cool-looking storefronts that bring the bustle in spades.
The Common is cool, and has been bringing it for awhile now. It's so cool in fact, that when I first stumbled upon this place years ago I felt some trepidation about going in. Finally, one winter, I mumbled my way through a take-out order, feeling overwhelmed by such things as:
1. Absence of menu on the wall
2. Absence of personal comfort items (read: sandwiches)
3. Abundance of people intensely typing on their Macs and consequently, a lack of empty seats, which felt something like rejection to my silly self.
Since that day, I have snapped up one of those coveted spots more than once, with rapidly increasing frequency and enjoyment. Still no menu to be seen, however the staff behind the counter did qualify this for me once with "...but I can make you pretty much anything you want."
Hard to argue with, that. On my most recent visit I went straight for the fruits of their retro Elektra espresso machine. I'm not gonna lie - rich and delicious Americano ($2) served in a tall Picardie glass did taste better than those conventional mugs I drink from at home, and I appreciated the opportunity to dictate my own water pour-age.
Pots of amber-hued brown sugar, standing alongside organic milk and cream, felt luxurious, and looked even more so sinking into my friend's frothy and heart-adorned cappuccino ($3).
I have a bit of a thing for shortbread, so the scant snack choice between these buttery biscuits ($1) and a coconut cookie ($1) did not trouble me in the slightest. Fresh, yummy and eaten too quickly for me to even realize (as in, who took the rest of my cookie?).
The interior is simple and comfortable with plain white walls and a winding vine, accented by a fun collection of drawings and snapshots behind the counter. If the wall menu was sacrificed in favour of that awesome vintage Laura Secord signage, then I'm not complaining.
Long wooden benches and tables give the room a kind of unavoidably communal feeling; which on this day ended up working out quite well considering my coffee date just happened to know the two girls sitting at the opposite end of our little slice of table in the corner.
She also knew the girl behind the counter. I tell you these things because it rendered the name of the place very appropriate, whereas before it may have seemed sort of presumptuous; I mean, for seemingly appearing outta nowhere at College and Dufferin.