Ed Witt out, Justin Bittner in at 8407 in Silver Spring

July 31, 2013

Less than seven months after he started at 8407 Kitchen Bar, Ed Witt has left the Silver Spring restaurant to launch a new chef-driven menu at the renovated Hawk & Dove on Capitol Hill. Witt's replacement at 8407 will be Justin Bittner, who just announced his departure from Bar Pilar after seven years at the small-plates operation on 14th Street NW.

Justin Bittner is leaving Bar Pilar to put his own stamp on the 8407 menu in Silver Spring. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Justin Bittner is leaving Bar Pilar to put his own stamp on the 8407 menu in Silver Spring. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Witt is already in the kitchen at Hawk & Dove, hammering out a new menu and ordering sous-vide equipment. Bittner will join 8407 on Aug. 22, says general manager Nancy Hart.

"He was looking for a job where he doesn't have to commute to D.C.," Hart says about Bittner, who has a few acres in Howard County. "I'm happy to have somebody new and young and with a fresh approach."

While Bittner's shift to Silver Spring will remove him from the trendy 14th Street corridor, it will also give the chef the ability to expand his repertoire. Bar Pilar specializes in small plates; 8407 boasts a variety of menus, including separate ones for lunch, dinner and the bar, each of which has entree-sized plates.

Hart expects Bittner to roll out his new menus in the fall.

If Bittner wanted to be close to home, so did Witt, who lives in the Northeast section of Washington. The Hawk & Dove, the chef says, is a 10- to 15-minute walk from his place.

Just in his third day on the job, Witt is still working out the details of his menu, which will need to satisfy a number of objectives: feed the bar crowd that populates this section of Capitol Hill, elevate the fare beyond upscale pub grub and remain compact enough not to overwhelm a kitchen that regularly has to cook for large parties.

"It's going to be my food," says Witt, who previously worked at 701. "The whole thing is we want to move it into a dining destination, not a bar destination. But we will still embrace the bar part of it."

Witt has no timeframe on when he'll roll out his new menu. "As quick as I can," he promises.

According to Eater DC, Bar Pilar will host a pig roast on Aug. 17 to say goodbye to Bittner. There is no word yet on Bittner's replacement.

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.
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