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CommonWealth, 14th & Irving Streets NW

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We wandered in tonight and, for the uninitiated, it's like a whole new language. We were expecting football on the telly when, in fact, they were playing soccer. The sweetbreads I ordered, whilst additictively tasty in a mustard sauce, actually were not bread at all, but apparently some obscure bit of calf or maybe hedgehog. The "frog in a puff" was not in fact made with frog, but with lamb and it's my understanding that the pigs ears in the pig's ear salad are actually goat shanks or something of the sort. Two nations divided by a common language and all that.

At fourteen dollours ninepence, the marrow salad, which yielded maybe 10 CCs of actual molten goodness plus parsley, made one feel as though the Artful Dodger were in charge of the menu pricing, or perhaps that we were getting a taste of pre-Thatcherite rationing. The deep fried olives were, however, the ideal post-modern bar snack. A Goldfish™ for the aughts.

The beers, whose prices reflect the brutal stomping the pound is administering the dollar these days had quaint olde countrie names like Full Butt and Blubird Bitter (note to self: write essay juxtaposing Bluebird Bitter with Bluebird of Happiness. Have Crescentfresh spellcheck) so, of course, we passed them up for some good old Budweiser, brewed in the Commonwealth of Busch Gardens by Belgians.

Kidding. The soccer football hooligans behind the bar threatened to kneecap us if we drank Bud and offered us numerous tastes of obscure beers, including the aforementioned Full Butt, some other anonymous "porter" (so called because in the waterfront saloons of Bristol, it was traditionally pulled from the left, or "port" side of the bar) that tasted better than the Full Butt but didn't have as cool a name, so we forgot it. We enjoyed the St. Pete's Ale, the Bluebird and current cask thingie and have paid Ferment Everything to write tasting notes that will make us appear sophisticated yet down-to-earth, which we will post as soon as he e-mails them to us.

Cheers.

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But why would a pub pushing English beers charge $4 for a bottle of Bud and $10 for a bottle of Riggwelter (one of the finest Yorkshire ales around)? Riggwelter retails for $4/bottle at Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). What's with the 2.5x markup on the English ales they want to be known for yet they only charge $4 for a Bud? Sorry, Bud-swillers, but you losers should be subsidizing the rest of us who want to drink real beer.

FWIW, Riggwelter is $10 at Rustico as well (as are most of the 16.9oz English bottles we carry). I don't really deal with the ins and outs of pricing or subsidizing, just a point of comparison. Maybe WF takes a lower margin on it in order to move the product quicker? Or maybe the distribution overhead is lower in DC? (not sure what WF location you're talking about).

(this can be moved to a "pricing beer/alcohol" thread if an editor so desires. might be an interesting topic to discuss, if it hasn't already been done)

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We enjoyed the St. Pete's Ale, the Bluebird and current cask thingie and have paid Ferment Everything to write tasting notes that will make us appear sophisticated yet down-to-earth, which we will post as soon as he e-mails them to us.

I should really read the entire thread before replying next time.

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Went to Commonwealth this past Friday with some co-workers. We shared the scotch eggs, welsh rarebit and a bucket o' chips. The scotch eggs and wesl rarebit were very very tasty. The chips were only okay - they were a little too soggy and wilted for my tastes. For thick cut (steak fries), I prefer a nice crispy outside with a fluffy innard. Your tastes may vary.

For my entre, I ordered the beef and pork pasty. The filling was very nice and the dough cooked beautifully. The mashed potatoes on the side were great, in fact, I wish there were more on the plate. The only knock I have on the pasty is that the filling could be a little wetter. It was kind of like a meat loaf inside and I think a gravy or sauce over top (though not traditional) would have made the dish sing. It also didn't help that I tried a bite of the fish from the fish and chips and thought it was delicious!

To drink I had a cask Hop Devil and an English pint of the Bellhaven Twisted Thistle. Both were excellent beers and really hit the spot.

Overall, I was more than happy with our outing to Commonwealth and will be looking forward to getting up there again.

Cheers!

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The deep fried olives were, however, the ideal post-modern bar snack. A Goldfish™ for the aughts.

I like the sound of this. Are they black or green olives? Anything inside? I used to love the fried green olives at Jimmy Kelly's Steakhouse in Nashville.

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The chips were only okay - they were a little too soggy and wilted for my tastes. For thick cut (steak fries), I prefer a nice crispy outside with a fluffy innard. Your tastes may vary.
FWIW, this is the complete opposite of our chip experience here -- ours were thick potato wedges that were hot and crispy with great potato-y insides. We're going back Sept. 3 with friends -- I'll let you know where on the spectrum those chips land...

We had a great meal here tonight. We started with sweetbreads and pork belly with a fruit sauce -- loved the sauce and the pork! Others at my table -- including a sweetbread virgin! -- preferred the sweetbreads. We then had the butcher board, with pork belly, duck sausage (still my favorite), garlic sausage, and two cheeses. Tripewriter thought that the blue cheese went especially well with the fried olives that we also had -- yum. We followed this feast with fried oysters, which Tripewriter dubbed light and fresh, though the ham, egg, and cress made it a hearty dish overall; bangers and mash, which our friend loved (and finished), and which I may have next time -- great sausage!; and rabbit with curried peaches and very nice lentils, which I'll be finishing tomorrow. We were too stuffed for dessert, though tempted by several options. I had the beer flight and enjoyed it quite a bit, though I think I'll stick with a pint of one type next time round. Tripewriter had a cocktail and said it was "beautiful," made with fresh-squeezed red grapefruit.

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Made it out to a very crowded (especially for 10 PM) Commonwealth on Saturday night. First off, I know it's a pub, but I was kind of shocked by the noise level. I was 3 feet away from my wife across the table and we had to yell to hear each other for the first half hour we were there and the place started to clear out. I don't think the issue was necessarily the people in the bar, but moreso the music, which was blaring out of the speaker above our table (so much so that the people sitting next to us got up to ask that it be turned down). That aside, the ambiance was great, this neighborhood needed a place like this.

We started with the Scotch Eggs and the Crab on Toast. Both were excellent, although they were heavy enough to be meals by themselves. I wanted to take home a quart of the spicy mayo they serve the eggs, that stuff could make anything taste great.

For our entrees, she went with the Fish and Chips and I got the Butcher's Breakfast. The fish and chips were definitely very good (chips were great when dipped in spicy mayo), but I think we have been spoiled by Eamonn's to the point that we can't have fish and chips anywhere without being slightly disappointed by them being inferior to the ones in Alexandria. Not a criticism of this plate, just our opinion. The butcher's breakfast was nice, very different than anything I have had in this area, but was a bit much after the heavy apps.

The highlight of the night for me was the Bluebird Bitter. While I agree that it was a bit much at $8 for the bottle, it was the perfect accompaniment for my food and just a flat out great beer. I think the next time we head here we will try to park ourselves at the bar to try more UK beers and maybe just get apps, as they were more than enough food for just the two of us.

Congrats Antonio and Jamie!

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Stopped in the last two Sundays in a row. The first was a solo afternoon "butcher board" meal including sweetbreads, head cheese, and stuffed trotters. Victory Hop Devil on cask. The second was a smorgasbord experience with 4 friends. We ignored the brunch menu and ordered what felt like one of everything else: chips, scotch eggs, frog in a puff, potted pork, crab on toast, duck sausage, black pudding, sweetbreads, stinky and goat cheeses, bubble/squeak, and welsh rarebit. The black pudding was the only thing that even came close to missing (maybe we let it get a little too cold?), and the rest was great. The potted pork was some of the best I've had in the city, and the bubble/squeak was the sleeper hit: fried cake of cabbage and (i think) bacon. Hop Devil was 86'd so I reluctantly had a pre-noon Victory Storm King cask.

I'm hoping they get some more momentum behind their cask program to catch up with Antonio in the kitchen...if they do, this will quickly become one of my favorite places in the city.

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Tom Sietsema's review says it's a vegetarian hell but the vegetable salad is good. But the online menu says there's a house smoked tofu shepherd's pie and a vegetable tikka masala, which sound interesting. He doesn't mention those though. Are they still on the menu and has anyone tried them?

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The tofu shepherd's pie is good but not necessarily what you'd expect if you're just looking for a vegetarian version that tastes just like the meat version. It came with a beet sauce. Yes the menu is heavy on the meat dishes (which also taste better IMO) but I thought there were some good options for vegetarians -- most of the sides (cauliflower gratin, mushy peas, bubble and squeak, green beans) appear to be vegetarian although I don't know if they're cooked with meat broths or cheese. The fried olives with lemon, Welsh rarebit and potato wedge chips are a good choice for veggie apps. On another note, their service remains superb - really friendly and accommodating, and they also take reservations.

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We had a somewhat unexpected meal here today -- lunch at 3:45 :lol: -- but ended up being very happy to be at Commonwealth, even after what it took to get us there.

We started with the lobster bisque -- delicious -- and then moved on to frogs in a puff, which were spicy and great, and the basket of chips. Tripewriter stole all the cheese sauce, but that was ok, as they gave me a little pot of the spicy sauce that normally comes with the Scotch eggs, so neener neener. I then had the chicken pot pie, and Tripewriter seized the moment and had the egg in a hole. Both were good. My pie had too many carrots for my tastes, but then, more than zero carrots is too many for my tastes. The meat was great, and it was in a lighter sauce than I had envisioned, which meant that I went home full, instead of miserably stuffed -- a good thing. For beer, Tripewriter had the Newkie Brown, and I had the ESB. Yum.

We thought that we might just stay for the rest of the day, but we were hot after being out in the yucky rain and then eating all that food, and so just came home to collapse and wonder if we'll ever eat again :)

Saw both Jamie Leeds and Antonio there -- hope I didn't get you in trouble by saying hi, Antonio, but didn't want to ignore you (and always enjoy seeing you) :P

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We had a great dinner on Friday night. This was our second time and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants at that price point. We enjoyed the pickled vegetables that are served with the bread service. I also enjoyed a nice cask ale (can't remember the name?). We started with some fried olives, which were very tasty, an excellent bar snack . I had the London Broil, which was served a perfect med. rare and came with some smooth mashed potatoes. My wife had the crisp vegetable salad which was very fresh and light. Very attentive service and a nice vibe. We are recommending it wholeheartedly to all our friends. I wish we had a place like this in our hood. Interesting food, well prepared, nice beer and wine list, and fair prices. What more can you ask for? And they apparently show EPL on Sunday during the brunch hours. Bonus.

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I don't talk alot about what we do at the restaurant very much, but I thought it might be nice to let you guys in on a little secret, we're opening on mondays starting tomorrow, and to celebrate that fact, I will be serving fried chicken on mondays only.....just thought you guys might like to know. :lol:

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I don't talk alot about what we do at the restaurant very much, but I thought it might be nice to let you guys in on a little secret, we're opening on mondays starting tomorrow, and to celebrate that fact, I will be serving fried chicken on mondays only.....just thought you guys might like to know. :lol:
WHAT?!?!?!? I HAVE TO CALL TRIPEWRITER NOW!!!!!!!!

(woo hoo! we're on for 7:30 pm!)

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For the love of Pete, go get the chicken. We're taking a third plate home for Tripewriter's lunch tomorrow, and the car has never smelled so good. Go. Now.

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T-minus 15 minutes!

"If you finish that, I'm going to give you a medal," one of my four friends said last night at Commonwealth. The Sunday-night special of Roast Beef ($22) came on a platter large enough for all five of us, but with the exception of one piece, I managed to down the entire thing with a side order of Yorkshire Pudding ($5). That's on top of beef heart, deviled sweetbreads, Scotch eggs, etc.

"I'm taking your comment as a challenge," I said, as they looked on in horror.

This was the most food I've eaten in a long, long time, and I felt like I had swallowed a medicine ball. Even several hours later, as I lay awake at 1 AM, I thought I was going to explode.

The time stamp on my check was 10:16 PM, and that's precisely when I began my 24-hour fast. No cream or sugar in my coffee, no salt, no calories - nothing but a pot of black coffee this morning and water the rest of the day. And a workout at the gym, too.

So tonight was "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," to get my mind off my hunger - for the first time in a long time, I'm REALLY hungry!

And my day-long total fast ends in 15 minutes. Yeee-haaaaa!

Cheers,

Rocks.

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For the love of Pete, go get the chicken. We're taking a third plate home for Tripewriter's lunch tomorrow, and the car has never smelled so good. Go. Now.
Yeah the chicken was ridiculously good. (And I think I was there earlier and could not stop by to say hi.) Also yum to the corned beef with cabbage. And I was digging dipping the mashed potatoes in the jus from the corned beef.

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Made my first trip there for lunch today. The open-faced roast beef sandwich was quite good, it was at its best when the bread underneath the meat was soaked in the slightly too salty jus. The mashed potatoes could have used a little work, they were light and airy, and would have been fine with fish, but with something like roast beef they needed to have a bit more body. Also, the gravy tasted fine, but would have been better had it been a bit thicker.

The SkullSplitter Orkney Ale and the Smithwicks provided a nice way to make the pains of my morning go away.

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Only one cask on tonight, and it was back to Victory Hop Devil. They seem to have a particular affinity to Victory casks here, although the bartender told me they also had some Rogue beers on cask as well. No other breweries mentioned. Legacy Hedonism is a fantastic imperial red (or red.5 as it's only 7%) in bottle.

And yes: Beer-battered bacon. That's right.

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The VERY very good: Chicken Pot Pie. Haven't had a better one in many years.

The very good: Fish & Chips, Butcher Breakfast, scotch eggs, and Frog in a Puff.

The just ok: baked pancake. Pancake was very good, but the currants were too tart and overwhelmed everything else.

The disappointing: nothing available on cask. And the menu section that says "Pots, Pies, and Pasties", but offers no Pots or Pasties. My kids' infatuation with pasties was what drove us here today, and when our otherwise excellent server informed us that "...pasties are only a seasonal offering..." the disappointment level was high. How are pasties not a fall/winter food? And did they freeze the bread? How can bread be crusty on the outside, and cooked through, but ice cold in the center?

Since we're never in this neighborhood, this would have to be a destination place. With 2 pints, tax and tip, the bill was over $100 for lunch for 4. Food was tasty, but didn't feel like a great value.

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In no mood to cook or clean, nor contribute to the work of the fine friends who invited us to join them for Thanksgiving this year, the Mrs. and I went to Commonwealth. It blew us away. You had two choices to make. Do you want the root vegetable soup or do you want the arugula salad, and do you want the turkey or the roast beef?

We both opted for the soup which literally warmed our palates and then came the onslaught. We opted to split a turkey and a roast beef order and it came out sliced on one platter, family style. And it came in typical home-cooked Thanksgiving style.....more than one person can possibly eat. Add in a plate of mashed potatoes, a plate of sweet potatoes, a plate of green been casserole, a plate of collard greens, a plate of cornbread and sausage stuffing, a plate of oyster stuffing and, when that was all done, your choice of apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie.

Every dish was delish. The turkey and the beef were moist, the stuffings and veggies full of flavor and, as Commonwealth does, the food was mostly sourced from local producers. The only thing missing was the cranberry sauce. But, we were plenty full from what we got. And what did we pay for it all? $25 per person plus tax and tip. I don't know how they did it all for that price but I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to make my reservation for next year's Thanksgiving now if they were taking them. And I'd invite family to travel to DC just to go celebrate the meal there, too. Amazingly good meal.

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