Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PUB GRUB: The term "gastropub" was coined in the 1990s in England when a few ambitious chefs eighty-sixed traditional (read: inedible) dishes on the pub menu in favor of such fine-dining fare as goat cheese, artichoke pastries and miso-marinated local cod. Chef Jamie Leeds's much-hyped gastropub, CommonWealth, which opened last week in Columbia Heights, does the opposite: It dresses up very traditional British fare.

Yes, almost everything is locally sourced or house-made, but will Washingtonians really embrace Scotch eggs (hard-boiled eggs coated with sausage and bread crumbs and deep-fried), black pudding, stuffed trotters and trout rollmops (pickled trout stuffed with Swiss chard)? "This is foodie stuff. But I wanted to do something different," said Leeds, pointing out that her gastropub also has roast chicken and fish and chips. "And who doesn't like fish and chips?"

Leeds said the Scotch eggs and black pudding were popular when the restaurant opened. But on my visit, most diners seemed to be sticking with the fish and chips or hamburgers. After all, who doesn't like burgers?

-- Jane Black

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