Out with the Duck ... and in with the Tiger

The Common Tiger’s co-owner Timothy Bruyns has a passion for experimental eating.
The Common Tiger’s co-owner Timothy Bruyns has a passion for experimental eating. Pha Lina

Out with the Duck ... and in with the Tiger

High-end cuisine restaurant The Common Tiger to be reborn in new location on Sothearos Boulevard

Eccentric fine-dining restaurant The Common Tiger is closing down. A set dinner and party tonight at the popular Street 294 eatery will mark the end of a two and a half year run.

But that’s not the end of the story. Owners Timothy Bruyns and Christina Thomas are opening up a new restaurant on Sothearos Boulevard, in the space recently vacated by New Zealand chef Dah Lee’s upmarket but under-appreciated diner, The Duck.

According to Bruyns, 34, the new venture, which will be called The Tiger’s Eye, is set to open at the end of next month.

“We’ve decided that it’s time to take all the lessons we’ve learned in our business and refine it more into a new space,” Bruyns said this week at The Common Tiger, frothy cappuccino in hand, a T-shirt showing off his full sleeve tattoo.

Bruyns, a South African who started cooking seriously when he was 21, is clearly passionate about experimental eating. The Common Tiger, which was his first restaurant and head chef position, was as much a culinary art studio as it was a restaurant.

The menu, which constantly changed, included such Frankenstein plates as asparagus panna cotta, smoked tomato and mozzarella terrine and braised pig head.

“For me, number one is that food needs to be delicious and satisfy emotionally. If you can engage intellectually, you’re winning on all fronts,” he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Bruyns’ next endeavour, The Tiger’s Eye, will also feature a changing menu with creative dishes. Pha Lina

Bruyns said that while The Tiger’s Eye would continue in that experimental tradition, he and Thomas also planned to include more accessible dishes in the new menu. He stressed that he did not want the new place to become a “special occasion kind of place”, which The Common Tiger had become.

“I want it to be about every day,” he said, adding that at least two dishes – the raw and cured tuna ($9) as well as the braised pork ribs ($9.50), both big hits at The Common Tiger – would be available from the new kitchen. While not yet drawn up, Bruyns said that the menu would be small, “market dependent” and change often. Along with dinner, there would be lunch and breakfast items offered.

“I need to see and engage with the produce in order to design a dish … the menu comes from seeing this and seeing that,” he said, adding that there would also be an expanded cocktail menu, which the head chef was keeping under wraps.

According to Bruyns, the reason for the move and rebranding was pre-emptive. Phnom Penh was becoming an increasingly expensive place to do business, he said, and the rent on The Common Tiger’s building was going up.

Furthermore, his vision for his restaurant did not fit the physical space. Bruyns wanted something smaller, more intimate, with a focus fully on the food and the dining experience.

“[The new restaurant is] a lot more focused on four walls, with a kitchen at the back doing something awesome,” he said.

Tonight’s set dinner will consist of “Common Tiger Classics”, a six-course selection of some of the chef’s favourite dishes, and cost $60 per person or $80 including paired wines. Reservations must be made for the 6pm dinner, but after 9:30pm there will be a cash bar open to all.
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