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Aug 7, 2008 09:03 AM

UK-themed gastropub in Columbia Heights

Commonwealth is open with limited hours. Scotch eggs, welsh rarebit, black puddings, head cheese, trotters, and cask ales. I'm there!

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  1. I'm excited about this, been looking forward to it for a while and live nearby, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to get there. Anybody been yet? Do tell.

    1. Longtime NYC chowhounder who spends his summers in DC...

      Tried this place tonight. Was very busy for a new restaurant, but as it is located in a neighborhood that is starved for some culinary attention, it should come as no surprise.

      The food was pretty good. Tried a bunch of different things - we were there around 5 and they did not yet have many of the menu items available yet (they said jacket potatoes and blood pudding were coming later in the evening). Food was very tasty although some of the salads did not really match their description in the menu. Fantastic beer list (although they were already out of Boddingtons). All of the food is supposed to be local and organic. Many farmers were thanked in the menu.

      I would definitely try the place again.

      11 Replies
      1. re: zak

        Drove by the place last night (Saturday) around 9:30 and outtdoor seating was packed and it looked like they were turning people away at the door. Parking is at a premium, but fortunately the place is located directly above the Columbia Heights Metro station on the south side of Irving Street.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          I actually got to go after all the other night, I'll try to report back more later, but did have a good time. Scotch eggs on their way to becoming famous, I have a feeling, and I loved the mushy peas. Also appreciate having half-pints. They thank farmers, which is nice, but they're not all truly local (one is in Georgia), so I guess the point is not big agribusiness. It might look a little pricey at first glance at menu (fish and chips, eg, $16), but there are "snacks" (including the scotch eggs) and "trimmings" ($5 each, includes the mushy peas, yorkshire pudding....), that seemed esp appealing, anyway. Checker board painted on table, next to us a group was playing. Some service issues, but they were really nice about it and it was because it was their first Friday night and it was packed. I love that this place is in my neighborhood -- really interested to hear from others.

          Sorry for my fast typing!

          Oh and if you have to drive, the parking lot under Target is $1/hour and it's practically empty under there.

          1. re: mselectra

            I'll second the Scotch Eggs. Perfectly tender with three dipping sauces (the parsley-caper was my favorite). Anyone familiar with Fergus Henderson's "Nose to Tail Cookbook" will recognize most of what's on the menu. Also had the deviled sweetbreads, again perfectly cooked and rich tasting. They also have "frog in a puff" which I assume is toad-in-the-hole,

            The main courses are $13-38, but you can easily cobble together an excellent meal from the $5 sides (yorkshire pudding, bubble and squeak, welsh rarebit, potted shrimp, etc), washed down with a Bombadier Ale. And for a pub, it's got a respectable wine list as well as a selection of whiskeys. Service was surprisingly snappy for a place that's less than a week old, and the barkeep was very helpful. Can't wait to go back and try the roasted bone marrow and parsley salad.

            If you don't want to take Metro (the stop is directly below the restaurant), go for the Target parking lot across the street. Street parking is nonexistent.


            1. re: monkeyrotica

              I've been hearing about this toad-in-a-hole dish but what is it exactly?

              1. re: Elyssa

                toad in the hole (a favorite of brian wilson — random tidbit) is a slice of bread with the middle cut out of it and an egg fried in the center. I'm not a huge fan, but must admit it does make a quick, easy breakfast in the kitchen...and i'm sure when a restaurant does it, they do a much better version than my 8 a.m. tabasco-doused bastardization.

                1. re: littlew1ng

                  Oh ok...I'm familar with that. My Mom use to make it for me and my brother all the time as kids. She called it something else though---can't remember what. It's tasty (especially when she would give us the little circle of bread grilled in the pan with butter...mmmm).

                  I wasn't aware this was a British food.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    That's not toad in the hole!

                    Toad in the hole is in sausages in batter (like Yorkshire Pudding).

                    I speak as a Britsky who spent much of my childhood trying to avoid eating it.....

                    1. re: jt1

                      THAT sounds more exotically British :)

                      1. re: Elyssa

                        Yeah, that's not toad-in-the-hole. That's egg-in-the-basket. Although in the U.S., the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.



                        I hope to god there's no such thing as "toad-in-the-basket." Sounds like something you'd do on a fifth or sixth date.

                      2. re: jt1

                        yes, that's how they described the frog in a puff, as I remember -- in the same wrapped-foods-involving-sausage category as the scotch eggs.

                    2. re: littlew1ng

                      We called that rocky mountain eggs when I was growing up in Cleveland...

          2. WOW ... is that place really offering an authenitc Welsh rarebit dish? My mom whose Welsh mother and grandmother made a perfect Welsh rarebit dish for her during her childhood, but, unfortunately, couldn't do it for me nowadays. She forgot how to make it, but could still recount its wonderful status as her favorite comfort food. She did mention that beer was in the dish. It would be great if I could taste it in the way Welsh folks would have create it. I will be there on this Saturday if it is authentic enough ... even if it is being bastardized a little bit
            . Can anyone tell me how they do it? Thanks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Guten Appetit

              The recipe is fairly standard - make a roux with butter and flour, add a little mustard and worcestershire sauce, then add some beer and lots of cheddar - serve on toast.
              Here is one version - do not, repeat, do not use Guiness though - a good ale is the way to go:

            2. had dinner here last night, an overall pleasant experience (due in part to good company.) The crowd was surprisingly light for a saturday night, probably because of crappy weather.
              things got off to a bad start when they were out of boddington's and brought me an inadequate substitute, but i drank it quickly and stopped caring. moving on to the food — bubble & squeak was very good, a very interesting lightly fried cake of onion, cabbage, bell peppers and bacon — four of my favorite ingredients, so i liked it very much. The welsh rarebit was interesting, good texture and great cheese, but with some strange aftertaste i couldn't identify. Bangers and mash were good, but nothing special — a parsley overdose put a damper on the entree, but fortunately the potatoes' good texture survived. burgers ordered medium came out well-done, and it's not something this place can afford to mess up with Five Guys right next door. The fries were crisp, thick and well-seasoned, very good fries. i'd eat here again, they've got some work to do, but i'm interested to see where it goes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: littlew1ng

                I went this past weekend, Friday September 19th and lets just say I was sorely disappointed. Its a nice space, not what I would call a pub feel to it, more like a modern take on it with steel and concrete but still with a pretty comfortable feel.

                The meal started off with a decidedly bad interaction. Boddington's....nope, one beer on the cask (a porter?), ok I'll take your suggestion about the beer thats like boddington's. Well it defintely was not like boddington's and actually was pretty terrible. Luckily the french fries (chips with gravy) were outstanding. Tasted liek they were prepared for the table, hot, crispy, very good potato falovor, really the singular highlight of the evening.

                My date ordered the chicken pot pie that she seemed to like, nice flaky crust, big vegetables, nice big pieces of chicken, but it was very bland in my view. For my entree I tried the butcher platter or plate (can't remeber what they call it and I had the deviled sweetbread, the pork belly, and the ham (which was like a virginia ham). The ham was very good, salty like you would expect but with a big powerful ham smell and tatse, very good. The deviled sweetbread was poor, maybe I jsut didn't get the "deviled aspect" but it was not very good. The pork belly while pieces of it were very good, it didn't really have the pork belly deliciousness, tasted more like a barely cooked piece of fat. Overall, I would not go back. Just because the neighboorhood, culinary wise, is like being in the desert and needing a drink of water, doesn't mean we have to eat the sand. And yes I still love you Wonderland, $7 a Delirium Tremens now seems even more liek a steal after paying eight dollars for a less than stellar pint at Commonwealth.