Free Shortribs at Butterfield 9!

Chef Michael Harr, ego-bruised after his shortribs took a knocking online, is letting the public decide.

Butterfield 9's shortribs: warming comfort food or a too-cold toss-off?

Last month, local online foodie (and former Washingtonian wine columnist) Don Rockwell ate at downtown DC’s Butterfield 9 and wasn’t a fan. Sure, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But once Rockwell called the restaurant’s Braised Beef Short Rib “fatally flawed” in a post on his eponymous food forum, Butterfield’s riled-up chef, Michael Harr, sprung into action. Hence, the Butterfield 9 Beef Shortrib Challenge.

That means that tomorrow between 6 and 7 PM, anyone can stroll in for a free taste of Harr’s shortribs paired with a scoop of truffle grits, the $10 dish’s usual side. Though Rockwell did faintly praise the entrée, calling it “the best of the night,” he came down hard on the meat’s “refrigerator temperature” in the same breath. Harr is out to prove his promise that the ribs are “fall-apart, mama’s recipe and comfort-food good.”

Butterfield 9’s Michael Harr stands behind his meat.

To prepare for Thursday’s onset of feisty rib-eaters, Harr special-ordered 100 pounds of beef, which will come out to 400 tasting portions. Butterfield 9 publicist Dusty Lockhart has even started a grassroots movement, visiting nearby office buildings to plug the giveaway. “I’ve found that receptionists and guards are much more accommodating when you have cupcakes,” she says.

So will the shortribs be fridge-caliber cold like Rockwell claimed? Or just like mama’s as Harr will testify? It’s on like Donkey Kong. Get down there Thursday, and come back to the Best Bites Blog to let us know your thoughts.

Butterfield 9, 600 14th St., NW; 202-289-8810;