Review: District Commons, Foggy Bottom
District Commons is one of the more recent creations of the blockbuster food powerhouse Passion Food Restaurant Group. The same group is behind the clean, downtown seafood spot DC Coast; the very upscale version of creole, cajun, New Orleans inspired cuisine at Acadiana; and the spicy, Latin-American inspired chic staple since 2003, Ceiba. The later have become downtown powerhouse lunch spots and keeping the business community well lubricated (and well feed) in the evening hours. But what about the new kid on the block?
Being a Georgetown dweller, I very adamantly frequent the same, local spots, and unless it’s Nats game or I’m actually on the Hill lobbying, I rarely leave the comforts of NW DC. So when my
girlfriend fiance suggested we take my mom not far down the road to District Commons (a place we have yet to try), located in a very new building near George Washington University and across from the GW Hospital, I was immediately on board. Local; check. New construction; check. Food…?
Having never been there, I consulted my friends, the Twitterverses on the internets, and other popular food reviewing sites where any idiot with a computer can publish a diatribe about how the peppercorns were not ground according to the Iowa State Pepper Academy standards (I highly doubt that’s a real place, but if so, I’d like to be an honorary fellow please).
Aghast! The reviews are exceptionally mixed both from strangers on the internets and from friends! Now what am I supposed to do?!?!?!
“This place is really loud…”
Writes a person from some suburb in Virginia that I don’t even care to look up the location to.
“The food is overpriced, and the crowd was not friendly at all.”
Reviews someone actually from DC,albeit with a name I need the Rosetta Stone to pronounce.
“The food/menu is fussy, but the food lacks seasoning and doesn’t live up to the hype of the menu.”
Writes a, what I can only assume to be a soccer mom who corrects everyone’s child’s behavior while failing to notice her’s are huffing paint and eating lead chips (bad Timmy), on a review board from yet another suburb in Virginia (do they honestly not have an TGI-McBalls these people can go to).
Before I get to the food (which was great by the way), let me address the “critics” above just on the generic merits of their comments. Yes, the place is noisy and the decor is purposefully modern, and sparse. Guess what this means 5th grade science graduates? Voices carry and there are echos. Further, on a Friday night, this place is packed. I’m talking a good 40-50 people up front and around the bar, with another 60 or so seated around the restaurant. It’s not a library, it’s a restaurant, one that hopes people will come there, hence packing the place. Since this isn’t Nazi Germany or a fucking library, they are going to talk. Crowded + talking = “LOUD.” This person fails at life. Please don’t procreate.
To the “overpriced” food point. I did a quick, 3rd grade math, average of the entrees. It comes out to a number that starts with a “2” not a “3”. Newsflash: in the nation’s capital, this is not expensive. Rather, for food this good, this is on the side of very affordable. When more than 20 restaurants around here average $50-60 for one entree, it’s affordable. Now, not only is it affordable, but this helmet-wearer used the wrong word. She meant to say “expensive” and not “overpriced.” The latter would mean that she knew the cost of the raw materials, the restaurant’s overhead expenses, took Econ 101, and actually figured out the price point this dish would have to be served at to be considered “regular” or “under” priced. Armed with that number, the online reviewer determined the restaurant indeed priced this dish too high. This, I will bet my fiance’s sparkly new diamond on, is not the case. That reviewer continued to say “the crowd was not friendly at all.” I’m sorry….what?!? The crowd? As in, the random congregation of strangers who came to this restaurant to sit down with their friends and eat the food that this restaurant produces was somehow unfriendly to you? And this is somehow the fault of…….the restaurant? Your poor social training as a child? Society? President Bush? I hope you wear water wings when you eat soup to prevent drowning.
Concluding with my personal favorite, “The food/menu is fussy, but the food lacks seasoning and doesn’t live up to the hype of the menu.” So, is the menu fussy or the food? Is the menu “hyped” up but the food is fussy? Is fussy food the opposite of hyped food? Ugh…my brain just melted. I don’t even know what this person is trying to say. We need a new plague in this country.
Now that the masses are dispensed with, the food was better than average, beyond good, it was delicious. Honestly, it was just good damn food, exactly how advertised on the menu.
We all started with glasses of wine, and since my mother was in town to spend time with the newly engaged yours truly, thank heaven the pours were not slack. I ordered the “Blue Ribbon” pork rack chop (pictured above) which was served bone in, perfectly seared, and was wrapped with Benton country ham and topped with melted mozzarella, on a bed of eggplant “chow chow” and a Johnny Cake (pan friend cornbread for those non-Southerners). Holy pork was this good. Think of an inside out Cordon Bleu. The pork was moist, the ham was salty, the cheese was stringy, (I added pepper) and inhaled this thing. The chow chow wasn’t really a chow chow per se, but it was some tasty sauteed eggplant. The corn bread it sat on was a nice textural compliment and the much needed crunch was perfect.
My fiance ordered the crab cakes (pictured above). Talk about all crab and no filler, there was very little binding. I could not honestly tell if there were any bread crumbs. I assume there was day-old-bread soaked in milk, an egg, and some type of sauce to bind all this beautifully sweet lump crab meat. Watch out Maryland, these things are legit.
She also ordered a side of broccolini (pictured above) sauteed with pine nuts (I guess to be healthy and all). Not much too it, but it was good and not under/over-cooked. The presentation was cute, in a manly cast-iron-skillet sort of way.
My mother, being the wonderfully odd duck that she is, and not being too hungry, ordered the appetizer friend oysters (pictured above) and the side order of macaroni and cheese (pictured below). The oysters were huge, perfectly friend, and so tender on the inside. These were some seriously good friend oysters. I honestly want to go back right now and order some. They came ontop of a blue cheese slaw that was a tad watery, and served with a Frank’s Red Hot Remoulade that was perfectly tangy. The mac n’ cheese was just as it should. Piping hot, cheesy, and had a bread crumb topping. Oh, and I must add, she was not sitting at our table when our food was brought, so they waited for her to get back before they set her food down. That, is a good sign.
Overall, great food, good (but yes, loud) atmosphere, polite staff, an overall fantastic meal. Thank God I didn’t listen to all the mouth-breathers out there. But don’t take my word, or anyone’s, head to District Common’s yourself. Hey, if you don’t like it, feel free to comment below. Just be specific!
Where: District Commons, 2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037. Website.