The sound you hear is Raynold Mendizabal breathing a deep sigh of relief.
Four months after a rooftop fire closed Urban Butcher, the chef and owner will reopen his Silver Spring restaurant, bar and meat shop on Monday, Feb. 9, with free appetizers, drink specials and a roast carving. The open house is being billed as a thank you for the community support Urban Butcher received during its unexpected hiatus, which included recognition for its lamb tartare and weekend brunch during a time when the place remained shut tight.
The long closure was due, in part, to repairs (including those to fix the roof and refresh spaces damaged by smoke and water) and to the inevitable battle over insurance money. Mendizabal can't discuss the insurance issue, because it remains ongoing, but to a guy who once fought a multinational law firm in court over fumes from his former burger joint, he's almost accepted that he will never take the path of least resistance.
"It seems everything is a battle," Mendizabal says. "It's my karma, I guess."
Urban Butcher has not lost much staff nor charcuterie during its four-month dormancy, the owner says. All the dry-cured products, whether lomo or coppa, have remained in good condition while hanging in the temperature-and-humidity-controlled aging room. The hams, in fact, are even better than before, Mendizabal suggests, since they've been aging for an additional four months. Some are now two years old.
"That's like ham heaven," he says.
The only casualty, the chef says, was the dry-aged meats, which he typically cures for 30 to 60 days. "At 12o days, it's too much," Mendizabal says. "If you leave it so long, it starts to get rancid." He instead gave the meat away to staff before rancidity set in.
The time off has given Mendizabal a chance to reflect on his menu, which will include a few items when Urban Butcher reopens. Look for a foie gras mousse; baked beans with house-made tasso ham; a main course of pork blade prepared like Korean barbecue, with the accompanying lettuce leaves and dipping sauce; and a main course of beef tartare, a full 10 ounces of chopped eye of round.
The Urban Butcher open house will run 5 to 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, at the restaurant, 8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-585-5800.