Saturday, January 14, 2012

District Commons

District Commons celebrates American cuisine and all its global influences with flair, originality, and cool comfort on Washington Circle. Passion Food Hospitality's newest venture showcases seasonal, sustainable seafood, locally grown fruits and vegetables, house baked artisanal breads and pastries - all make for a classic American tavern updated for 21st century taste. Closest Metro is Foggy Bottom.

The space is anchored by a monumental raw bar and an open hearth oven for flatbreads and savory tarts. A 'Pig Board' of ham and biscuits will showcase a selection of America's finest hams. Chef/Owner Jeff Tunks serves up classic American cuisine in this gorgeous setting. Highlighted menu items include Chili Glazed Duck, Brick Pressed Chicken, and Classic Hanger Steak.  Freshly baked breads and desserts round out your meal. Every night at 10pm they ring the "Dinner Bell" for that evening's Family Meal - each night a different offering such as Fried Chicken, Meatloaf - even Pupusas - all for $12 per person. Drinks include regional American drafts, exquisite wines, or sample from the 99 Beers on the Wall.

It is Restaurant Week again in our beloved city and this fairly new restaurant was on the top of my list to try.  For our second night out, we took a cab to Foggy Bottom (rare for us) because the Metro station nearest us was closed for track work.  So we arrived earlier than our reservations and with the packed dining room, we were asked to wait at the bar until a table opened up.  The dining room was much larger and airier than expected, but between the football playoffs on TV and it being RW - it was certainly crammed inside.  Keith ordered a winter ale: the New Belgium Snow Day and although much darker than what he prefers, he liked it a lot.  I had my favorite: a glass of Riesling.  After finishing our drinks at the bar, we were seated.  Our timid server came over soon after and asked us what we wanted to drink.  When she returned to take our food orders, she just asked us if we were "ready to order" - she did not ask if we had any questions, she did not recite any entree specials (I later overheard the next table over being told the specials by their server - of which, the scallop entree I might have chosen, had I known about it).  Perhaps it was the extra stress from RW, but I wish our server had been a little more outgoing.  Nevertheless, a fellow blogger tweeted that I should try the pretzel bread.  For an extra $2, we said "why not?" and ordered it in addition to our 3 course choices.  District Commons featured one of the better RW deals in that they offered their entire regular dinner entree items for choosing of your second course.

The pretzel bread arrived and was piping hot, soft on the inside, salty on the outside, and the mustard butter that came with it was light and tangy.  I am glad we tried it, although was probably not the best idea to get this time, since beignets came with my soup and my main entree was full starch as well. Way too filling!  My white bean soup was hearty and perfectly warm for the chilly night, however I found it quite bland and lacking any flavor.  The cheese beignets were salty and gave the soup some dimension.  Keith thought his seafood chowder was one of the better ones he's had, with chunks of seafood and vegetables prominent.  My main course was a nice portion, hearty, filling, and seasoned very well.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly and I highly appreciated that the tails were already removed.  On the other hand, Keith's steak was just alright.  Kind of boring with the same ole' fries and salad. And the peppercorn sauce was more of a regular jus.  He thought it would have been nice to have something a little different, although I understand that District Commons is trying to showcase the traditional American classics "as is".  My dessert was a little disappointing - not sure if my palate was just tired, but I did not find the chocolate sweet enough and the cake itself was super dry.  Keith's root beer float was fun and classic.  Overall, District Commons provided fresh American fare in an upbeat casual dining atmosphere.  Yet there is nothing that I would come running back for.

Total Rating: 3.575
Food: 3.5, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Hot Pretzel Baguette
beer mustard butter

White Bean Soup
cheddar cheese beignets

Shrimp & Grits
sauteed Gulf shrimp, country ham, Holy Trinity

Boston Cream Pie
salted caramel sauce

Plus Keith ate:
Seafood Chowder
Hidden Valley Ranch oyster crackers

Grilled Creekstone Farms Ribeye Steak
French Fries, whiskey peppercorn sauce, obligatory green salad

BTS Root Beer Float
vanilla ice cream, Burger, Tap & Shake bottled root beer

 District Commons on Urbanspoon

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