Restaurant Review: CommonWealth GastroPub

January 7, 2010 § 3 Comments

Local powerhouse chef/restauranteuse (and genius behind Hank’s Oyster Bar) Jamie Leeds’ newest venture, CommonWealth: The People’s GastroPub, has been up and running in Columbia Heights for almost a year now.  I’d been a couple times before and enjoyed it- a comfortable but lively atmosphere, a great beer list, and solid British-American food.

I went there again last night to hang out with some new friends (ok fine it was technically a TweetUp, god I’m a nerd).  I expected to have a localish beer, and head home to make dinner, figuring there was no way I’d be able to eat there and stick with this experiment.

As it turns out, I’m a daft arse.  It somehow had slipped my mind that Jamie Leeds is a badass (and clearly whomever the chef and beverage manager are at the pub, whom I now must meet).  

Their ENTIRE American bottle/can beer list is from PA/MD/VA (I had the Lancaster Milk Stout, which I just tried a few nights ago at The Wonder– so good, tastes like coffee and chocolate).  There is also a small note at the bottom of their menu that says which local farms they source from.  Being both excited and skeptical, I quizzed our darling, pink-haired waitress Robin about where practically everything on the menu came from.  I apologized for being so difficult, but it turns out she works at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market on the weekends, and was only too happy to find out the answers for me. 

And here’s where this local food experiment gets almost TOO easy.  I had a juicy grass-fed burger (beef from Groff’s Content Farm in MD) with local chevre and their seasonal, local vegetable of the day- roasted brussel sprouts.  The brussel sprouts were so delicious I actually felt bad for A, who got the burger with (probably not local) hand-cut fries (I am a notoriously awesome restaurant orderer.  It’s sort of my claim to fame.).  

And, because it was Wednesday Happy Hour (4-7pm), my glorious burger was $5.50.  FIVE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS.  And my beer was $7.  I had a delicious, satisfying meal made with local food at a restaurant owned by a famous chef and my bill was $12.50.  I love DC. 

While not everything on CommonWealth’s menu is made with local food, their daily, seasonal side always is, they serve local, grass-fed beef, and have a variety of local cheese to chose from.  They get produce from the farmer-owned Tuscarora Co-Op (one of the few vendors of local food that is nearly as easy to buy from as Sysco, though significantly more expensive), and have a clear preference for all things local and sustainable. 

I have long adored Jamie Leeds (every time I see her I just want to hug her, I have the same reaction to Ris Lacoste), but now I am fully devoted to CommonWealth.  I never thought I’d be able to eat bar food again, much less a burger at a bona fide pub (complete with the occasional sketchy man lurking at the bar- what’s a good pub without its characters?). 

I’m adding CommonWealth to my list of Where To Eat, and I would encourage you to add it to your mental list.  Be sure to let them know you are there to eat their locally sourced food, they need that kind of feedback to continue to do the right thing, even though it may be more expensive. Supporting restaurants BECAUSE they support local farms is a big part of this fight.  

Do your part, stuff your face with a burger and beer. It may be the most important thing you eat this week.

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