You've seen this before: the repurposed barn wood lined with Americana-style artworks, and the cocktail list boasting regional, small-batch spirits and homemade bitters. A menu dominated by off-cuts of meat, and rustic cotton napkins--two vertical red stripes running up the side--folded atop every table. If you get a sense of déjà vu when you walk into the Pig, the new 14th Street spot from Eatwell DC restaurant group (Logan Tavern, Commissary, the Heights), it's for good reason.
Call them the barn bistros. Mintwood Place, Boundary Road, Green Pig Bistro, and District Kitchen--it's a style of restaurant so popular that the terms employed to describe it--nose-to-tail, farm-to-table, lumberjack chic--have been used to the point of meaninglessness. In fact, says Eatwell DC's Josh Hahn, the owners of the Pig consciously stopped calling their new restaurant a "nose-to-tail" eatery after deciding the phrase was too clichéd.
So what sets the Pig apart from its rough-hewn brethren? "The menu is 55 percent pork products," says Hahn, who adds that chef Garret Fleming and his team will break down whole pigs in house, then use as much of the animals as possible. "There are odd cuts of other proteins on the menu--venison instead of steak, rabbit liver, monkfish for our seafood homage. But the intense amount of pork is the biggest distinction. It's called the Pig, and I think we're delivering on that."
Meanwhile, the Pig's staffers are being trained to distribute shareable plates to create a smooth flow. "We're going to try to make sure that as food is served, it's coming out in a very deliberate and logical manner, so there's balance. If you're getting a heavy and rich pork dish, maybe the one behind it is something a little bit lighter, like a salad, so that you're not sitting there eating a plate of vegetables, and then ten minutes later you get meat, meat, meat." Along with shareable plates, the Pig will serve suppers designed for individual diners, but Hahn hopes that shared items will give diners incentive to try relatively out-there dishes. "We think the menu is comforting and challenging at the same time. And for six, seven, eight dollars, we're hoping people are willing to invest in the porchetta or the trotter ravioli and just give it a whirl. Because we think they'll be pleased."
The Pig is slated to open Wednesday for dinner, though Hahn cautions the restaurant group will not rush things if staff aren't ready. "If we want an extra day, we're not going to try to force the issue." [UPDATE: THE PIG IS NOW SLATED TO OPEN THURSDAY, MAY 17]
The Pig. 1320 14th St., NW, 202-290-2821; thepigdc.com. Open nightly from 5 PM to close. Look for a brunch menu to debut about three weeks from now.