Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

First Look: Kushi Izakaya & Sushi


There’s something wrong with me (maybe). I can’t get enough sushi! I just crave it – spicy tuna, firecracker, flying fish roe, fatty tuna, I WANT IT ALL. So when I was invited to check out the new Japanese gastropub in Mount Vernon Square, I jumped at the chance.

Sleek, modern and minimalist, the best Kushi experience you can have is at one of their three (!) bars – the sake bar, the sushi bar or what I call the grill bar – what is technically supposed to be called the robata counter. I sat at the robata counter – the bar surrounding Kushi’s kitchen. There is literally no back kitchen at Kushi, everything is prepared out front under the watchful eye of diners. With charcoal and wood burning grills, a sous-vide machine and a few tiny stoves, eating at Kushi is cooking theater. Chefs slice, dice, grill, plate and prep right in front of you. It gives the diner a perfect vantage point for the evening, and also keeps you craving more. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Commonwealth


"Commonwealth" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

It isn’t Commonwealth’s fault that it has the single-most worst view of any bar in the city. Entirely fronted in high glass walls, it overlooks the ghastly architectural blight of DC USA, the single-most worst looking development in the city. Billed as a “gastropub,” that British trend of sexing up the old-school pub with better food than the usual slop, it splits the gastro to one side and the pub to the other, making for a bar area that seems an afterthought. However, even with those three design strikes against it, so far I quite like Commonwealth

As far as the pub section goes, once you get over the view it’s quite cosy, with small tables and a long leather-bound banquette. It’s been an accommodating space for both large groups and small duets. The beer list has selections from the U.S. commonwealths of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts in addition to United Kingdom brews. This makes for seemingly strange bedfellows for the eleven drafts, like Michelob and Bellhaven Twisted Thistle, but I suppose it does make it easier for groups of friends with disparate tastes. There are also beer flights and nightly specials, and you can get a U.S. or a U.K. pint (one dollar more). The bottled selection offers about twenty U.K. and fourteen U.S., and so far friendly servers have been knowledgeable and helpful in navigating the choices. As I’ve said before, I know nothing about beer, so this is a plus for me. To date I’ve tried Samuel Smith’s Lager, Black Sheep Yorkshire Ale, and the reliable Smithwick’s Irish Ale to good success.

If you’re looking to nosh, the pub grub is interesting as well. Continue reading