For those playing this season's favorite party game — Where in the World Is Ed Witt? — the chef has just turned up at his fourth restaurant in the past 10 months. Except this one is not yet in operation: Witt will be executive chef at Parts & Labor, a 100-seat bar and eatery that Neighborhood Restaurant Group plans to open in conjunction with its Red Apron Butchery shop on D Street NW.
Last week NRG hired Witt, most recently seen at 8407 Kitchen Bar and (briefly) at Hawk & Dove, and the chef is already working with charcuterie specialist Nate Anda on conceiving a menu that showcases Red Apron's line of almost 100 cured and aged meats. The collaborating chefs expect to feature between 40 and 60 charcuterie products a night at Parts & Labor, allowing diners to select a small portion of any item so that they can sample widely.
So, for example, if you want to try the 100-day dry-aged rib-eye, "you're not going to have to buy a 12-ounce cut," says Anda, partner, executive chef and butcher for Red Apron. You could buy just a 1-ounce portion instead, he says.
Charcuterie aside, Parts & Labor expects to offer diners an unconventional menu of dishes organized by protein or cooking technique (such as rotisserie, on which Anda and Witt plan to roast rabbits, ducks, chickens and suckling pigs) or even breed of pig. The dishes, according to an NRG publicist, will not focus on appetizer or entree sizes, but on portions that encourage sharing and/or customizing a unique experience every time you walk into the restaurant.
Witt will be charged with creating many of the fresher, greener, more acidic items on the menu as well as overseeing the execution of all other dishes at Parts & Labor, which will be open for dinner only. Brent Kroll, wine director for NRG, will be in charge of developing a wine program that matches the breadth and intensity of Red Apron's charcuterie. Kroll plans to offer a wide range of wines by the glass and by the taste, making sure each bottle remains properly stored and in prime condition.
Parts & Labor will be attached to the Red Apron at 709 D St. NW, which is expected to offer a wider selection of sandwiches and prepared foods than the other locations in Union Market and the Mosaic District in Merrifield. "What you’ve seen at the two Red Aprons is kind of a small sliver of all the sandwiches" that Anda has created, says Megan Bailey, publicist for NRG. She guesses that Anda, working with executive pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac on breads, has conceived at least 60 sandwiches.
Once scheduled to open in the fall of 2012, the Red Apron on D Street has been caught up in a permitting black hole; NRG apparently had to resubmit plans and just recently secured another permit to finish up the remaining construction. NRG now plans to open the doors to Red Apron/Parts & Labor in November.
Once Parts & Labor opens, don't expect Witt to pack off to some other destination. Says Anda about the restaurant's opening-day chef "He'll be here for a while."