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An Early Look at CommonWealth (With Menus)
A flight of beers at CommonWealth.
Comments () | Published August 4, 2008
Jamie Leeds’s first two restaurants—twin outposts of Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle and Old Town—may be seafood-centric, but the chef/restaurateur confesses that meat is her first love. She channels this at CommonWealth, her gastropub in DC’s Columbia Heights that opens this Wednesday. The menu of British-style pub fare includes butcher boards of charcuterie (don’t miss the ultra-flavorful Surrey County ham), house-made head cheese, stuffed pigs trotters, deviled sweetbreads, pork belly, and Scotch eggs wrapped in sausage—the chef’s favorite. “For a nice Jewish girl, there’s a lot of pig on my menu,” she laughs.

Beyond the carnivorous offerings, there’s (Smithwick-beer-battered) fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, even a side of “mushy peas with mint.” But there are also salads, both porcine (heirloom tomatoes with crispy pig’s ear) and vegetarian-friendly; shepherd’s pie filled with tofu; and a dish of vegetable tikka masala. “I wanted it to be good for the neighborhood,” says Leeds, who lives right around the corner from her new restaurant and tavern.

CommonWealth sits on the ground floor of a new luxury apartment building across from Columbia Heights’s shiny Target, but inside, it feels authentically worn-in. To the right is the pub room, where CommonWealth’s logo is painted on a cinder-block wall and wooden stools are lined up for pint-sippers. (Beer also comes in half-pints, 20-ounce “English” pints, and tasting flights of four 4-ounce pours.) There are hand-painted game tables for checkers and chess, and for further entertainment, bar-goers get a glimpse into the semi-open kitchen, where cooks work under a white-tiled archway that evokes London’s tube.

On the dining-room side, a brown leather banquette stretches the length of one wall. Dark wooden tables are stocked with bottles of vinegar, mustard, and house-made Piccalilli relish—a British pub staple made with pickled cauliflower, carrots, green peppers, and green beans. Chalkboards overhead announce the weekly Sunday roast and display drawings by a local artist—one is, appropriately, a sketch of a pig.

Running CommonWealth’s kitchen while Leeds hops around between her three places is Antonio Burrell, late of Viridian and most recently Eleventh Street Lounge in Arlington. For the past six months, Burrell had been working at Hank’s in DC and helping Leeds with menu-planning for CommonWealth, which included a research trip to London. “The standard pubs there buy their Piccalilli relish in a jar and they use frozen food,” says Leeds. “We wanted to take that to a whole new level.”

In the magazine’s August issue and in our slideshow on the making of CommonWealth, you’ll see the napkin on which Leeds scribbled her vision for the restaurant a year and a half ago. Now on the brink of opening, the finished product seems to reflect that napkin’s notes: “Gastropub...meats...roasts...no kitsch....real food.”

CommonWealth, 1400 Irving St., NW; 202-265-1400; cwgastropub.com. Open Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday, 5 PM to midnight. Closed on Monday. 

CommonWealth Menu

Snacks

Mug of soup with crusty bread  $6

Lemon stuffed fried olives - v  $5

Bucket of chips - v (cheese, gravy, additional $2 each)  $5

Scotch eggs  $7

Stuffed trout rollmops  $11

Frog in a puff  $7

Potted pork  $9

Crab on toast  $13

Pint of prawns  $13

 

Salads 

Rocket with farmstead cheese and lemonette  $8

Watercress with Surrey ham, poached egg, and StrongBow cider vinaigrette  $9

Crisp vegetable salad with radish, basil, and mustard dressing  $9

Roasted bone marrow and parsley-shallot salad  $14

Tidman's salted heirloom tomatoes with crispy pig's ear  $11

 

Pots, Pies, & Pasties

House smoked tofu shepherd's pie - v  $15

Chicken pot pie  $16

Cornish beef & pork pasty  $14

Steak & oyster pie  $18

 

Sunday Roast

Roast, potatoes, and vegetable served family style (see blackboard)

 

Butcher Plate

House tasting platter/ 3 for $24 or 5 for $32

Cold

Surrey County ham  $6

House-made head cheese  $8

fuet  $9

garlic sausage  $6

duck sausage  $11

bresaola  $8

Hot

Black pudding with sunny side up egg  $8

Stuffed trotters  $9

House-made Wiltshire style pork belly  $8

Deviled sweetbreads  $12

Cheese

Creamy, semi hard, stinky, blue, goat, cheddar (see blackboard) 

 

Mains

Smithwick's beer battered fish & chips  $16

House smoked haddock cake & mash  $15

Whole roasted trout with bread & butter stuffing  $17

London broil with Worcestershire & Maldon smoked salt  $19

Cumberland bangers & mash with onion gravy  $15

Grass-fed beef burger  $13

Roast chicken for two (allow 30 minutes)  $38

Vegetable tikka masala - v  $16

Simply grilled fish with parsley sauce  $18

Butcher breakfast (2 poached eggs, streaky bacon, black pudding, Surrey ham, pork 'n beans)  $17

 

Trimmings  $5

Jacket potatoes - v (Comes with choice of topping, additional $2 each) English cheddar sauce, rapini & garlic, bacon & creme fraiche, pork 'n beans, spinach & mushroom

Yorkshire pudding with onion gravy 

Bubble and squeak

Mushy peas with mint - v

Cauliflower gratin - v

Welsh rarebit - v

Green bean casserole with cremini cream - v

Farm vegetables of the day - v (see blackboard)

 

Puddings  $7

Sticky toffee pudding

Lemon trifle with raspberry sauce

Chocolate pudding cake with ice cream

Warm treacle tart with cream

Earl Grey semifreddo w/caramel shortbread

Young's double chocolate stout float (over 21)

Dominion root beer float (under 21)

Cheese plate (see blackboard)

 

v - vegetarian

 

 

 

 

Beer

Beer flights

See blackboard for beer flights and specials.

 

U.K Drafts 

Strongbow Dry Cider  $6.50/U.S. pint, $8/English pint

Harp Irish Lager  $6/U.S. pint, $7.50/English pint

Boddingtons Pub Ale  $6/U.S. pint, $7.50/English pint

NewCastle Brown Ale  $6.50/U.S. pint, $8/English pint

Smithwick's Irish Ale  $6.50/U.S. pint, $8/English pint

Belhaven Twisted Thistle, IPA  $7/U.S. pint, $8.50/English pint

Guinness Draught  $6.50/U.S. pint, $8/English pint

 

CommonWealth Drafts

Michelob Light Lager, VA  $5/U.S. pint, $7/English pint

Old Dominion Lager, VA  $5/U.S. pint, $7.50/English pint

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, MA  $6/U.S. pint, $7.50/English pint

Victory Golden Monkey Ale, PA  $6.50/U.S. pint, $8/English pint

 

Cask Conditioned Drafts

Victory Prima Pils, PA  $6/U.S. pint, $7.50/English pint

See blackboard for rotating draft

(All drafts also available in half-pints.)

 

U.K. Bottles/Cans

Samuel Smith's Organic Lager  $8

Wexford Irish Style Creme Ale (can)  $8

Isle of Arran Blonde Premium Beer  $11

Tetley's English Ale (can)  $7

St. Peter's English Ale  $8

Greene King Abbot Ale (can)  $8

Well's Bombardier Premium Ale  $7

"Old Speckled Hen" English Fine Ale  $8

"Hen's Tooth" Conditioned English Ale  $11

Duchy Originals Organic English Ale  $8

Belhaven Scottish Ale  $8

Camerons Challenge Ale  $8

Adnam's Suffolk Special Bitter  $8

Samuel Smith's India Ale  $8

Riggwelter Black Sheep Yorkshire Ale  $10

Samuel Smith's Toddy Porter  $8 

Young's Double Chocolate Stout  $8

SkullSplitter Orkney Ale  $9

Harvey & Son Imperial Extra Double Stout  $12

Kaliber N/A  $5

 

CommonWealth Bottles/Cans

Budweiser Lager, VA (can)  $4

Harpoon Summer Beer, MA  $6

Harpoon Munich Type Dark, MA  $6 

Fisherman's Brew Amber Lager, MA  $5

Fisherman's IPA, MA  $5

Samuel Adams Irish Red, MA  $5

Stoudts Pale Ale, PA  $6

Legacy Hedonism Ale, PA  $6

Cisco Brewers Whale's Tale Pale Ale, MA  $18

Stoudts Fat Dog Oatmeal Stout, PA  $6

Troeg's Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale, PA  $7

Troeg's Troegenator Doublebock Beer, PA  $7

Weyerbacher Abbey-Style Quadruple Ale, PA  $7

Dominion Root Beer N/A, VA  $3

 

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