Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Bite - Smith Commons

Smith Commons is named for the most ubiquitous surname in England and the US. Luckily, this new H Street restaurant is anything but common; instead it stands out from the other food options along this corridor. Chef Frederik De Pue has created a menu full of that is full of creative, yet approachable cuisine and has stocked the bar with plenty of craft beers and imaginative cocktails that can satisfy any palate.

Even though Smith Commons is the new kid on the block, they appear to operating like an old pro. We were seated for our reservation in a timely manner, even though the bar was bustling and there was a large group of people gathering around the hostess stand. The waitress seemed well versed on the menu and was happy to make recommendations.

The night we went, the kitchen was offering a limited menu because they had been open less than a week. Yet, the menu still felt more than adequate with a nice selection of appetizers, salads, a soup, entrees, various cuts of meat and sides. Both Elliot and I are suckers for macaroni and cheese. I also happen to think that it can say a lot about the quality of ingredients that are being used in the kitchen. The manchego cheese was full of flavor, and I was pleasantly surprised to find little oil at the bottom of the ramekin. Was it may favorite dish of the night? No, not really. But I do have to give the kitchen credit for doing justice to a comfort food favorite.

For our main meal Elliot ordered the half-pound burger and I opted for the wood-grilled tiger prawns. My giant shrimp were served with a watermelon and tomato chutney (the menu refers to it as a dressing, but I think it’s an inaccurate description). The shrimp were well seasoned and the “dressing” was good enough to ask for extra bread to absorb the remaining juices on the plate.

I know that a burger seems boring, especially considering the long list of places in DC where you can get a way above average version. This one absolutely stood out with the grilled portabellas and miso mayo. The meat was juicy and the brioche bun absorbed all the exceptional flavors that came from it. It was this dish that reinforced to both Elliot and I that this is going to be a great neighborhood place to watch a game while enjoying a pint and a burger.

Speaking of places to hang out, Smith Commons has 3 floors with 3 bars and 2 lounge areas. These cozy nooks will soon be serving small plates alongside the beer, cocktails and wine that they are already offering. This will be a perfect location to come on a date or with a group of lively group of friends. Though it is worth noting that you can't order every drink at every bar; some of the beer taps don't extend all the way.

And so even though Smith Commons is still in its infancy, I have a good feeling that this will quickly become one an acclaimed place to eat on H Street.

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