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Posted at 4:15 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Visit the new Smith Commons and take 25 percent off your meal

By Fritz Hahn

The second story lounge at the new Smith Commons features couches and benches aranged around candle-filled fireplaces. (Courtesy of Smith Commons)

New restaurants and bars usually have some kinks to work out when they open, both in the kitchen and in terms of service. You have to be a little understanding, but on the other hand, you expect something for your money, right?

Smith Commons, a restaurant and lounge that opened Tuesday night at 1241 H St. NE, is still finding its feet, and as a goodwill gift to early test subjects -- er, guests -- is offering 25 percent off all dinners through Sunday night. (The discount doesn't apply to tax or alcoholic beverages.)

The wide-open restaurant area and bar on the first floor has warm hues of brown and exposed brick, and the upstairs is the most stunning space on H Street: a lounge with soaring ceilings and several couches and benches surrounding two candle-filled brick fireplaces. An enormous window across the front of the building provides views of the neighborhood. And if you need a reminder than spring is on its way, look out the back windows and check out the huge patio.

As the discount might indicate, Smith Commons is still getting settled: Italian (white) and French (red) vermouth got mixed up in a cocktail; a bartender looked for Brother Thelonious beer on draft (the Belgian-style dark ale is only available in the bottle), and the penne carbonara was tasty but a little soupy. That's all forgivable, given its age and the great discount.

But Smith Commons could soon become one of the most popular stops on the H Street strip, and justifiably so. No other place in the neighborhood can touch its draft microbrew lineup: think Great Lakes, Flying Dog, Bell's, Dogfish Head Palo Santo, Goose Island Dominique. Plus, its ownership team, which includes a former general manager of the Park at 14th and one of the driving forces behind that club's Thursday night happy hour, know a thing or two about drawing crowds.

I have a feeling it will all kick off tomorrow during the Friday's "Smith Hour," which features $5 selections of bar snacks, beer, wine and cocktails from 5 to 7, and it will be packed for the rest of the night.

Another view of Smith Commons' upstairs lounge, showing the huge window (right) and the bar. (Greg Powers)

By Fritz Hahn  | January 6, 2011; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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