Ehren Ryan is a rising talent, serving a taste of the world to the state of New Jersey with his newly opened restaurant, Common Lot.
Born in Sydney, Australia, the young chef was inspired by his high school teacher to pursue a culinary career. Accepted into The Hotel School, Ehren Ryan spent his college years gathering real world experience, working for popular Sydney restaurants while attending class once a week. Graduating with a degree in commercial cooking after four years, Ryan was hungry to build on his foundation. Traveling to Europe, Ryan began making a name for himself by working in upscale restaurants across the continent.
In a recent interview, Ryan explained how valuable his time in Europe was, specifically crediting his experience with renowned restaurant, Sketch in London, established by master chef Pierre Gagnaire: “I was never exposed to that type of food before, the foie gras, the truffles…the rich food and plating.” The high-end work in Europe taught Ryan discipline, precision and the demanding responsibilities of running a restaurant. Familiar with the industry and confident in his abilities, Ryan set out to open his own restaurant with his wife and partner, Nadine.
Originally planning on moving back to Australia, steep living costs and rent persuaded the couple to join Ryan’s parents in America. Starting the search in New York City, the pair ran into the same issues of high living costs and rent, leading them down to New Jersey. The couple chose Millburn, NJ because of the short distance to the Big Apple and the belief that there was an opening for Ryan’s food style. Ryan describes his style as, “Contemporary global,” further explaining, “It’s an eclectic mix. We take influences from all over the world.” He shares his global experiences with people through his food.
As the chef described, he pulls inspirations from all corners of the globe as he has lived in India, The Philippines, Canada, Hong Kong, Austria, England and The United States of America. Made with fresh ingredients from a tight, local group of suppliers, this contemporary and international cuisine is generating a promising reputation for Common Lot.
“Our approach is fairly simple, we buy the freshest possible produce,” Ryan explained. We have only a tiny freezer for ice creams and a few other things. So we buy locally where we can supplement it by working with a forager. We have also become know for a few surprise elements including some home pickling or gardening. So our customers will find unusual items including our homegrown radish and baby turnips with cultured butter, house made elderflower vinegar. The menu itself is very much focused on the shared experience – small and big plates are all designed to be shared family style on what we call our Kitchen Pass menu.
Yet, Ryan’s delectable dishes are hardly the star of the show. Nadine’s scratch and sniff menu of expertly brewed tea combined with their pastry chef’s delicate array of desserts leave customer’s with a flavorful lasting impression.
The open and engaging layout of the restaurant is a stark contrast to the high quality fare. As with many suburban eateries Common Lot offers a more casual approach to fine dining with no dress code. During the interview, Ryan described his goals for the new restaurant, “We wanted to do something shareable, hands on and get the conversation going. Somewhere that feels like home.” The large tables, minimalist design and extensive upstairs cookbook library create a lively and warm atmosphere that attracts crowds.
Furthermore, Ryan offers an evening up close with the chefs to provide customers with an inside look in the kitchen. Known as The Kitchen Pass, this exclusive feature promises a unique and delicious ride as the chefs prepare a surprise menu for each party. The Common Lot is the perfect balance of casual fine dining, welcoming all types of occasions from romantic anniversaries to lively family nights out.
Ehren Ryan and his restaurant Common Lot, co-owned with his wife Nadine, is leading a new trend of casual fine dining. Merging his succulent, internationally influenced cuisine with a vibrant and handsome interior delivers an unparalleled fine dining experience. Although currently occupied Common Lot, Ryan hinted during the interview of another Garden State restaurant on the horizon.
To learn more about Ehren Ryan and Common Lot, visit their website.