Hot Opening of the Week: Inside the Partisan (Photos and Menus)

The newest eatery from Red Apron Butchery restaurateur Michael Babin debuts Wednesday.

The Partisan becomes part of the growing trend of butchery/restaurants, with Red Apron (left) adjoining the sit-down dinner spot. Photographs by Jeff Elkins

Steakhouses were once the darlings of the Washington restaurant scene, but there’s a new breed of meat-mongers in town: butchery/restaurants, where fresh cuts and cured meats flow between the market and sit-down eatery, offering a wider selection. Think of places like the Urban Butcher, Lebanese Butcher and Restaurant, the upcoming Parts & Labor in Baltimore, and now the Partisan, the newest spot from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Restaurateur Michael Babin just debuted his third Red Apron Butchery in Penn Quarter, and opens the adjoining 100-seat restaurant Wednesday.

The 20-plus-seat bar is the place to sip 50 wines by the glass, spirits on draft, and sour ales.

By day you can drop into the Red Apron for English muffin-like breakfast tigelles, lunchtime sandwiches, and an array of take-home foodstuffs. Come evening the seating for the sandwich shop turns over to the Partisan, which expands to a red-hued bar area in back. Chefs Nate Anda and Ed Witt (formerly of 701 and 8407 Kitchen) have devised a menu (see sample menus below) that draws extensively from Red Apron’s lineup of local and sustainably raised smoked and cured meats, sausages, dry-aged beef, and whole-animal butchery (yes, you can split an entire roasted pig’s head for $75 if your dining companions are game).

The menu draws from Red Apron’s extensive lineup of charcuterie, and also offers dry-aged beef and whole-animal butchery.

You might start out by grabbing a pen and marking up the charcuterie list, as you would a sushi menu, picking from 30 items. The other menu is divided by proteins (beef, fish, etc.), vegetables, and sausages. Plates in each category range from snacks like barbecue pork rinds to smaller shareable portions such as 120-day-dry-aged beef carpaccio, pork kimchee sausages, and Scottish langoustines with lemon zest and Calabrian oil. At the other end of the splitting spectrum are larger platters, including that pig’s head and a half or whole fried chicken served with honey hot sauce. Pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac delivers the sweet finish with desserts such as a fried bacon-apple pie or a ginger-beer ice cream float spiked with Fernet Branca.

The Neighborhood Restaurant Group made a national name for itself with the extensive draft beer program at ChurchKey, and expands the scope here to encompass wines and cocktails in the 20-plus-seat bar. Wine director Brent Kroll stocked the list with 50 by-the-glass options, half of which are on draft. The taps also pour spirits chosen by barkeep Jeff Faile, including Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon, Amaro Nonino, and the unusual Bäska Snaps Malört, a bitter Scandinavian liqueur. Of course there’s always Greg Engert’s beers: There are 50 bottle options and another 17 drafts, with an emphasis on sour ales and saisons. So no matter where your drinking allegiance lies, the Partisan gives you plenty of options for bipartisan boozing.

Casual seating for the sandwich shop during the day gives way to table-service booths at night.

Sample Menus: 
Fish and Vegetables
Poultry and Sausage
Pork and Beef

The Partisan. 709 D St., NW; 202-524-5322. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5 to 10, and Friday and Saturday 5 to 11. The bar opens at 4.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.