On Tuesday , crews were painting surfaces, hooking up power and installing the final pieces at Urban Butcher, chef Raynold Mendizabal's whole-animal restaurant, meat market and (no joke) coffee shop in Silver Spring. Once the last drop of paint is dry and the last ham hung, Urban Butcher will officially open to the public on Thursday, Dec. 12.
When the place debuts, it will mark a dramatic comeback for Mendizabal, who was forced to sell off the majority of his shares in the small Rogue States chain (now known as Black & Orange) to cover the legal fees in a 2010 nuisance suit over burger fumes.
As noted in an earlier report, Urban Butcher will serve only meats butchered in-house, only pates and terrines made in-house and only charcuterie aged in-house. That means some stars of the charcuterie board -- think prosciutto, lomo and bresaola -- won't be available until next year. Those cuts will be hanging in Urban Butcher's aging room at the back of the 170-seat restaurant, sort of tantalizing diners to wait (and wait) before sampling the salty, sweet and meaty morsels.
I imagine customers just standing and staring at the giant hindquarters hanging in the room, kind of like tweeners mesmerized by a Justin Bieber poster, wishing their object of desire could immediately materialize right next to them.
Before his place opens, though, Mendizabal has been busy with more than curing and aging meats sourced from area farms. He's been hiring staff, developing his shareable plates and building a cheese program (with the help of Karen Dee, cheese specialist with International Gourmet Foods). Mendizabal has hired butcher Matt Levere, who moved to Washington several months ago from Arizona.
"I really wanted to expand my career, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so," he said. Levere is formally trained as a butcher, which means he can break down "anything with four legs," he said.
You'll be able to see his skills with a knife next week.
Urban Butcher, 8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-585-5800. The restaurant does not accept reservations.
Further reading: Urban Butcher to go whole hog (and cow and lamb) in Silver Spring.