The Atlas District continues to revitalize the Northeast neighborhood with the addition of another restaurant, this time in the form of a gorgeous three-story bistro dubbed Smith Commons.
We were very enthusiastic about Smith Commons’ opening not only because it provides the area with another eatery, but also because of its diverse food and beverage menu, particularly their impressive beer selection.
Speaking of beer, we arrived half an hour early for our reservation and took a seat at the bar. Their list of will certainly grab a beer connoisseur’s attention as they offered a range of microbrews. Furthermore, because it was “Smith Hour”, all drafts were just $5. Hell of a deal if you ask me.
Rachel ordered a glass of Great Lakes Eliot Ness while I went with my beloved Ommegang Witte. We were about to pay the bartender the $10 for the tab when a gentleman stepped in and requested that he pay for the pint of Eliot Ness. Turns out he was a Great Lakes sales rep! We struck up a conversation as he told us about the Cleveland-based brewery. Not a few moments later, I then order an Eliot Ness for myself. It really is one delicious beer.
The two of us decided to get a bite at the bar since we still had some time to kill before dinner, so we ordered an Eggplant Lasagna appetizer. When it was arrived, the presentation definitely confused me.
The bartender served us a small shallow bowl that was topped with greens. At first, I thought it was a complementary side salad. After digging around with my fork, beneath the greens were layers of grilled eggplant along with creamed spinach and goat cheese crumbles. It was such an unorthodox dish but the combination of ingredients worked tremendously well despite its deceptive façade. I have never had lasagna like that but it proved to be a worthwhile starter. They also served bread with it which I thought was supposed to complement the lasagna, but we had already eaten most of it by the time our dish arrived.
Once our table was ready we were promptly seated and given the restaurant’s limited opening week menu. The restaurant had just open several days ago, so they offered a promotion of 25% off guests’ final checks, excluding alcohol, tax, and tip of course.
We decided to go right for the entrees since we already had an appetizer and drink at the bar. I ordered the Confit of Duck Leg while Rachel went with the Sea Bass.
The duck was beautifully arranged as the port wine sauce was artfully drizzled around the plate. While the menu said the entrée came with sautéed spring mushrooms, it was instead served with fingerling potatoes. Not that I minded, but I’m just assuming this was one of the kinks they were working out in the kitchen.
As for the confit itself, this was the first time I have had it when it wasn’t served boneless. Now there’s no going back as the meat was even more flavorful coming right off the bone.
Rachel decided on the sea bass, since she can never pass up one of her favorite types of fish. It was seriously one of the biggest cuts we have seen of sea bass before, and each bite melted in her mouth. The only complaint would be that the fish could have used a little more sauce or a crust on it, but it was so flavorful on its own that it didn’t really need it. The dish came with grilled greens, capers, a balsamic basil dressing, and two small potatoes. Even I thought the fish was excellent and I’m pretty picky when it comes to what fish I eat.
The waitress asked fairly quickly if we were done, and at the time we thought we were, so the check came right away, which we paid for. We thought of possibly going somewhere else nearby for dessert such as Toyland, but while we were sitting in the cozy dining room, we decided to just stay and order dessert at Smith Commons instead of venturing back into the cold.
So, we called back our slightly confused waitress and then concluded the evening with coffee and dessert. After some deliberation over the sweets listed on the menu, we eventually decided on the Crêpe Mikado. Between the warm, thin pastry and even warmer Belgian chocolate sauce, not to mention the vanilla ice cream tucked in the center, the crepe was outstanding. The coffee was even served with a French Press which was a very nice touch.
Overall, Smith Commons is a welcome addition to H Street. It is great to see another restaurant offer moderately priced yet upscale food and drinks, along the lines of The Liberty Tree and Granville Moore’s. All it takes is good cuisine and a clean, well-designed space. Smith Commons succeeds in both.