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The team behind The Commodore in Logan Circle is launching a new menu concept today that they’re describing as “white trash,” “fat boy finesse,” and “a five-star dive bar.” Eight months after opening in the former Veranda space, owner Brian Westlye, Chef Travis Weiss, and beverage director William Scott Jackson are pressing the reset button and starting fresh with cheaper booze, barbecue, and a bigger emphasis on burgers.
Customers weren’t shelling out for the pricier items on the menu. For example, Weiss was dry-aging local pork at Capital Meats, brining it in beer, and searing it off to order for $26. “It was like eating pork butter and people wouldn’t pay for it here,” Weiss says. “It was $26. We knocked it down to $23. Kwame [Onwuachi] could sell that for $140.”
Other dishes that diners ignored included whole smoked trout and scallops. “We’re making beautiful food, but in this neighborhood right here they didn’t want it,” Weiss says. While the team was enjoying flexing their fine dining muscles, they ultimately decided to check the sales reports and defer to what guests want.
Enter the new menu that spares no calories. There are now six burgers instead of two, including “The Squirrel Kicker” with smoked gouda, onion jam, and bourbon mayo. Then there’s a slate of composed barbecue sandwiches like the “Fatboy Fantasy” with beef brisket, pork, turkey, mac ‘n cheese, house mustard, and fried onions on sourdough. “We make everything but the bread,” Weiss says. The funnel cake poutine isn’t going anywhere, and they’re working on some other creative dishes like burnt end bolognese. All food items are now $16 or less. (Full menu below).
They also overhauled the drink program. “You can get fucked up for pretty cheap here, I’m not going to lie,” Weiss says. For starters there’s a whole line of “economy beers” that are always $3. Fans of boilermakers can choose between six “draft and dram” combinations that range from $6 to $12.
Then there’s Jackson’s cocktails that play off the new barbecue direction of the food menu. Each cocktail ($10 each) represents a barbecue region. The “Kansas City,” for example, is made of molasses syrup, tart cherry juice, and gin while the “North Carolina” contains peach and apple cider shrub with chili flakes, lime juice, rum, and Angostura bitters.
Diners will also be able to drink iconic sodas like Cheerwine, RC Cola, Mello Yello, and Dad’s Root Beer.
All in all they’re going for “dive bar prices, a dive bar atmosphere, but a five star experience” because they’re still using high quality ingredients. It should feel like a dive bar, “But you’re not going to be afraid to use the bathroom,” Westlye says.
The Commodore plans to launch its new brunch menu in a couple of weeks.
The Commodore, 1100 P St. NW; (202) 234-6870; thecommodoredc.com