H Street: Now a Mainstream Urban Oasis

H Street NE is notable for its ill-paved streets and random assortment of eclectic bars and restaurants. It’s our very own Epcot-like recreation of Brooklyn! And because it’s deliberately thematic, it has managed to avoid the onslaught of bistros--nondescript, sterile, nice restaurants that thrive on euphemisms (“approachable cuisine” anyone?). But Smith Commons, a new restaurant on H Street is all that, and it leaves us wondering what's becoming of this former open-air crack market.

Smith Commons is essentially the Birch & Barley of H Street: A fine restaurant with a nice interior that serves good, pricey food, where the side dishes are referred to as “companions,” and the French Fries as “frites.” There’s no PBR or circus acts or Jews and Irish people forging a New World Order of latkes and Guinness. It's a just big bar/lounge-y type place. It gets an extra point for having THREE stories with a bar on every floor, though it loses points for its puny beer selection. Anything less than 500 beers is unacceptable.

Look at those frites! Don't they look spectacular? And that half-pound Angus beef burger (known in some circles simply as a "hamburger") with its grilled portabella mushrooms and miso mayonnaise concoction? It is also spectacular.

The newest trend in upscale food is making you work for your meal. In some bars you must pour your own beer. Here you must forage through the favored green of our produce fanatic president to find your meal. Somewhere under that pile of arugula is a rich combination of grilled eggplant, creamed spinach, and goat cheese.

This is a salad that comes with duck. Which is not pork, unfortunately.

Smith Commons is a fine establishment on H Street and just because it’s not overwhelmingly cartoon-y, it doesn’t mean that the area is losing its charm. Or maybe this Gentrification Part Two of the area is exactly what this means! We do not know these things. The New York Times hasn't written a profile of H Street NE in years, probably because they're too afraid to venture to the Northeast quadrant, so we guess we'll never know. Oh well. We would just like some streetcars, please. The END.

Smith Commons, 1245 H St, NE, Washington, DC 20002, 202-396-0038

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