My first visit was during snowpocalypse, and my much needed sustenance was the beer-battered Smithwick's fish and chips. I figured, hey for my first visit, I ought to try one of the house specialities. Unfortunately, the dish was entirely too greasy. After the first 3 bites, greasy deliciousness turned into an overwhelming heaviness that obscured all flavors of the constituent ingredients. It's the kind of dish that if someone else orders it, you should have a bite, but I wouldn't recommend ordering the full dish for yourself. The bloody mary I had, however, was a standout--yes, I drank at lunch. Give me a break, it was blizzarding and took me over an hour to metro to Target, only to find it closed. I wanted a drink, dammit.
My second visit to Commonwealth, I decided to learn from my previous dining experience. Super greasy food? I'll order the grass-fed burger. That's fairly difficult to mess up. I was pleasantly surprised to find my burger well-cooked and enjoyable. My dinner partner, however, ordered a vegetable curry dish that was extremely disappointing. The only thing positive I could say, upon trying it, was that it "tasted very....healthy?" I didn't see this dish during a recent review of Commonwealth's online posting of their menu, which makes me wonder if the management removed the dish from the menu.
This past weekend marked my third visit to Commonwealth, and I happily sat on the outside patio (no snow, hurray!). A caution to readers: this is not a Georgetown waterfront patio. You will see buses. But overall, a fairly sizeable patio for a DC restaurant and generally pleasant atmosphere considering how centrally located the restaurant is to both the metro and a major traffic intersection.
The brunch I had was an enjoyable experience, if not a complete knock out of the park. Each table received complimentary bread and jam. The bread was nothing to write home about...frankly, it didn't taste terribly fresh...but the yummy strawberry jam more than made up for the bread quality.
My dining partner and I both ordered eggs benedict (see brunch menu, here), one with smoked salmon and the other with country ham. Because we had both ordered from the brunch portion of the menu (as opposed to 'sandwiches' or 'mains'), we each also received complimentary mimosas. The mimosa was sufficiently champagne-y (especially considering it was free), without being overwhelmingly boozy. The benedicts were delicious (how can anything with hollandaise sauce not be good?), although fairly standard in execution. The only real deviation from the standard benedict equation was that instead of being served on an english muffin, our eggs were perched on a thick slice of bread. All the better for soaking up the egg-y deliciousness! The side, breakfast potatoes, were delicious when doused with malt vinegar.
For $25, all in all not a bad brunch. While none of the food was novel, so far I've only had one or two poorly executed dishes at Commonwealth, and the service has always been friendly and prompt. Many restaurants rely on their metro proximity, not the quality of their dining experience, to draw customers. However, I think that Commonwealth maintains a respectable quality in spite of its relative convenience. Definitely a restaurant I'll be revisting!
(note: all pictures provided by commonwealthgastropub.com)