"Prior frustration with fine dining service is preferred."
The sentiment is repeated throughout Craigslist ads for all positions at Green Pig Bistro, but the same could be said for the kind of diner chef-owner Scot Harlan hopes to attract. You won't find local baby anything extolled on the menu when the 110-seat eatery soft opens. Nor will you find sommeliers portioning wine and whisking it away. What you can expect: canned brews, TV dinners, fat-washed bourbon, and bologna.
Harlan and co-chef Will Sullivan--both Arlington natives--favor riffs on throwback comfort fare. Think "twice-baked" potato gnocchi with sour cream, bacon, chives, and crispy potato skins, and a float of local root beer and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. Those "TV dinners" are really daily specials inspired by Swanson TV dinners--meatloaf, Salisbury steak, fried chicken. Takes on charcuterie include newly conceived Americana staples such as house-made Slim Jims and bologna. "Off cuts" prevail, so you'll see more shanks and sweetbreads than filet. It's all about what Harlan says is a technique-driven approach versus a reliance on pricey, artisanal components that drive up menu prices. "A lot of these things aren't inherently great," says Harlan. "They take a little love."
Harlan has worked in the kitchens of such luminaries as Thomas Keller, David Bouley, and Gordon Ramsey (to name a few), and slips haute and molecular techniques into a number of dishes. Corned ox heart is pieced together with meat glue--Momofuku restaurateur David Chang sculpted his famous "Frankensteak" using the binding enzyme--and Green Pig's duck confit with frisée and poached egg is a combination that would be right at home at Keller's Bouchon, where Harlan spent time.
The restaurant has a casual, homey feel with an oversize communal pine wood table right off the open kitchen, and collections of vintage Le Creuset and Harlan's favorite cookbooks on display (look up and you'll see pages from the tomes of Julia Child and Fernand Point covering the ceiling). Erich Mele and Nicole Facciuto of the Food Network's Restaurant Impossible are behind the design.
Green Pig is open to the public beginning Wednesday.
Green Pig Bistro. 1025 N. Fillmore St., Clarendon; 703-888-1920; greenpigbistro.com.