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Preaching Witness Goodness; Commons Comfort

Capitol Hill's new Southern bar, Witness, takes center stage over at The Stranger this week. Bethany Jean Clement finds the whole American Southern charm shtick...well, she seems to enjoy it.

Owner/barkeep/preacher-man Gregg Holcomb—formerly of Knee High Etc.—has installed a set piece that combines sitting on the front porch (complete with clapboard walls and a slatted dropped ceiling over the bar) with sitting in an actively anti-teetotalism church (glowing stained-glass windows, carved pews for booths).

She also seems pleased with an inspired scratch cocktail menu and comfort food, with a twist:

Dixie poutine ($8) has bacon-cream gravy and pimento cheese, ending up like a slightly spicy Velveeta concoction. The stand-up shrimp and grits ($13) also contains a pool of gravy, in case it wasn't creamy-rich enough for you already.

Oh, and there's brunch here, too. The dish that won her over was the croque'd toad ($10), a croque madame crossed with toad-in-the-hole, topped with a pleasantly lightweight hollandaise, "it could become a favorite."

Speaking of comfort food, The Seattle Times finds that The Commons in Woodinville has that cuisine covered, calling it an "upscale roadside cafe." Providence Cicero says the comfort food starts with the front counter pastry display:

I can tell you the scones crumble gracefully, the muffins are moist, the chewy chocolate-chunk cookies are wickedly good, and the chocolate layer cake is wholeheartedly decadent.

She calls the home fries "fabulous" and "cooked to a kettle-chip crunch." Similar praise goes out to the chicken strips ("a kids-menu staple that commands respect here") and chicken pot-pie ("pulled chicken and fresh vegetables in light gravy are ladled over a buttermilk biscuit that rivals the cinnamon rolls in size. Portions in general approach Cheesecake Factory dimensions").

On the flip side:

...penne sauced with lamb ragu was a bit over-salted, though tempered with harissa and a creamy dollop of feta and ricotta cheese on top. Roasted cauliflower was so salty one bite was enough.

All together now: two-and-a-half stars.
· Southern Hospitality [The Stranger]
· Witness [Official Site]
· The Commons Has Comfort Covered [Seattle Times]
· The Commons [Official Site]