Saturday night we were invited to the mock service at Washington's newest hot dining spot. The owners of DC Coast/Ceiba/Acadiana/Fuego/PassionFish/District Commons and more opened PENN COMMONS yesterday next door to the Verizon Center at 700 6th St, NW and I am confident it will be one of DC's busiest spots starting now!
The restaurant is down several steps and is one large room with a bar at the center. Sadly the stone floor and unfinished ceilings do make for a noisy setting. We really did not need the TV's over the bar on as well as the music (although I did catch the Yankees beat the Red Sox!). Our booth was cozy and comfortable and the clouded and clear glass surrounding us allowed glimpses of the street.
Our server, Melaku, always had a smile and was there at every moment to satisfy our requests. The Passion Food team has always gotten great help and it shows here as well. He took our drink order and brought out a loaf of the Hot Pretzel Baguette with Beer Mustard Butter that is requisite at District Commons (there are similarities in the menu, but this is no clone!).
I had a Pony Express with Smirnoff Vodka, Stirring's Ginger Liqueur, Ginger Ale, Lime Juice & Lime which was refreshing and cool. Will ordered the Penn Collins and asked if it was sweet. Melaku thought it was, but he said the bartender told him it was not. When it came, it was cloying and of course within seconds, Will had a martini instead.
Starters are varied and Will ordered the PULLED PORK HAND Pies which are two empanadas with Carolina (mustard-base) sauce full of juicy meat and really filling. I had the divine and cool GOLDEN TOMATO GAZPACHO with Crab and Cucumber Relish. It was most refreshing on a hot evening. Samuel decided to do the DAILY "PICK 3" which allows you to choose three items from a group of about 8 which are then presented in 3 adorable mason jars on a wooden board.
His least favorite was the House Made Pimento Cheese as he generally does not like soft cheeses or spreads, but bravo for him for experimenting. The Char Roasted EGGPLANT with Pesto & Toasted Pine Nuts was like a BabaGhanoosh on crack and we all loved the flavors, but Sam fell in love with the Hand Cut STEAK TARTARE with Siracha Aioli. The aioli was mild and a bit more spice would have been nice, but he was very generous and shared this delicacy which he declared to be his new favorite.
Our white wine was a Pearmund Viognier 20111 Vincroft Vineyard from Virginia which was great with all these different flavors and tastes. We moved on to a Matchbook 2010 Tempranillo from Dunnigan Halls which had some spice and guts and went brilliantly with our two spicy mains: Korean Grilled Rack of "PORK CHOP" with Quick Kimchi, Crispy Rice and Spicy KBBQ Sauce which was a dream dish as was the Crispy Tempura SOFT SHELL CRABS with Green papaya Salad, Cashews and a spicy Chili-Lime Dressing. Sam went simpler with the Grilled Creekstone Farms Skirt Steak with French Fries and a Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce, which we slathered all over the crispy perfectly cooked meat with a small Obligatory Green Salad.
The wine list here is nice with just under 50 choices and many by the glass, but you can really go for the beers which include over 80 beers/stouts/ales/etc including ones with names like
Hebrew David Slingshot Hoppy Rye
Shipyard Monkey Fist
Flying Dog/Raging Bitch
If you need help, ask for Travis the beer expert.
For dessert we chose the Mini Oatmeal Cookie Pies with Blueberry Lemon Mousse as well as a
Warm Fudge Cake(very rich) with Passion Fruit Ice Cream
Both were yummy and we went home happy and fulfilled knowing that there is a wonderful new spot in the Penn Quarter that indeed is NOT common.