Welcome Black History Month. 28 days, or 29 depending on what year it is, to celebrate a month to observe important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. My blog isn’t so much dedicated to history because it’s a food blog, so I figured I could incorporate this month by highlighting some African-American Owned Restaurants during this month. Typical African-American restaurants offer traditional “soul foods” which stems back from slavery days where it was told that slave owners used to feed slaves food that didn’t deem to be “edible”. Some of those dishes would be chitterlings, pigs feet, and neckbones just to name a few items. I love all of those above mentioned as well as the vegetables that are rooted from African-American culture such as collard greens, yams, and corn bread. This restaurant isn’t like your traditional African-American restaurant as it offers a variety of dishes that feature the non-traditional items. Smith Commons is located on H St. NE in the Atlas Arts District which is a couple miles away from Union Station (if you need a more specific known territory). The interior of this restaurant has alot of character as it gives you more of a “bar/family style” feel. I would say this place looks like a great place to meet up with friends, family, or co-workers for happy hour. The prices on each dish are very reasonable as no dish was over $40, and the appetizer prices weren’t bad at all.
Three courses and two appetizers were ordered so I could get a little taste of everything. Let’s start with appetizers. The first appetizer that was ordered was the smoked caesar salad. It consisted of Romaine Hearts, Capers, Anchovies, Balsamic Glaze, and a Poached Egg. The salad was refreshing as it was crisp, light, and flavorful. I love anchovies being accompanies with caesar dressing, as some restaurants actually make their homemade caesar dressing with anchovies. It brings out a level of salt to accompany the blandness of the lettuce, but accompanies the dressing very well. If you like poached eggs then you’ll love the yolk running out of the egg and being “souped” up with the lettuce and balsamic glaze. I always tell people that you should try at least one new thing when you go out to restaurants, and if you’ve never thought of ordering anchovies with your salad, then next time you must. Once you get over the fact that you’re eating “anchovies” you may never order another salad with anchovies again.
The next appetizer that was ordered were the Braised Boneless Short Ribs. No words can describe how well this dish was. The boneless short ribs sat on top of Parsnips Puree, Sauteed Onions, and Peppers & Miso Mustard Jus. The puree accompanied with the onions and mustard jus was genius as it provided a creaminess texture and a sweet after taste to go with the beef that was offered. They provide you with three short ribs that are so good you could literally inhale them. The only thing that I could say about this dish was there were noticeable pieces of fat in the short ribs. I for one am ok with eating fat attached to my beef, but others may not be. It didn’t take away from the overall dish, but it was something that I noticed. If you decide to order it, let me know what you think about it.
Three main courses were ordered which consisted of Loch Dunt Salmon, Butter Chicken, and Sous Vide Moulard Duck Breast. The butter chicken was by far one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. I don’t order too much chicken when going to a restaurant because it can be very bland, unsalted, and overall just not good, but because of this chicken dish I can honestly say that I may change my mind and order chicken more. The dish consisted of coconut rice, saute’s spinach, chopped garlic, and a spiced tomato cream sauce served with Naan. If you are like me you’re wondering what Naan is? If you already know what it is, good for you, but for all of you that have never heard of Naan it is simply a pita bread. The true definition of what Naan is, it’s a leavened, oven-baked flatbread found in the cuisines of Central and South Asia. My favorite part of this dish besides the chicken was the coconut rice. It was creamy, packed with alot of flavor, and the cream sauce that it was made with wanted me to personally walk back to the kitchen and shake the chefs hand. Yes, it was that good. The only challenge that I had with this dish is they don’t give you alot of spinach, maybe because it’s meant to be a garnish, but if you’re looking for a vegetable to go with this dish, you may want to order an extra side such as green beans.
The next dish up was the Loch Dunt Salmon. The salmon was presented sitting on top of a scallop potato, surrounded by leek fondu, turne zucchini, and chervil creme fraise. Salmon is one of those “safe dishes” at a restaurant. I’ve noticed that some restaurants actually ask you how would you like your salmon prepared? I remember the first time I was asked that question, I looked as though I was ordering steak, but I didn’t want to sound “ignorant” (for lack of better words) so I actually had the waiter explain to me why he/she was asking. They explained to me that salmon can be prepared at a different temperature, whether it be well done (which is typically how you cook it at home, if you cook salmon) but they recommend it to be cooked medium. If you’re ever asked how you’d like your salmon cook it’s ok to have your salmon well done, especially if you’re not into sushi or other raw meats. There isn’t too much I can say about this dish, because it’s salmon. The vegetables were great, but if you want something more to talk about, please order something else.
Last but not least we have the Duck Breast. The duck breast were served with Arancini Di Riso (which is a risotto ball), Bacon, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Rutabaga Puree, and pon zu glaze. This dish was absolutely amazing. The duck was ordered medium, because anything other than medium or medium rare is absolutely unacceptable. They provide you with a generous portion and the “risotto balls” help fill you up pretty quickly. The sauces that were provided with the duck were a little spicy but didn’t overpower the taste of the meat. The Arancini Di Riso was nice and creamy in the center even though it was fried on the outside. Duck is always one of those things that I enjoy eating at restaurants because it’s made differently no matter where you order it. Well, it should be made differently, but the way chefs incorporate their own spices and flavors into the duck makes it even more intriguing. Duck and lamb are my two favorite meats. Every now and then I’ll get a taste for a nice ribeye, but I don’t eat it as much because it takes so long to digest. I guess I was in a rush to eat because after I looked at the pictures I took of this dish I can honestly say that I owe you an apology in advance because the picture is blurry. I am sorry, I will do better next time.
Overall : This restaurant was great. I would suggest it for a quick date spot or a family gathering. I’ve heard that this place is also good for brunch, maybe I’ll go back view them for brunch. Until then, let me know what you think about it and what you ordered.