The double-take-worthy eatery wtf was birthed by restaurateurs Jeffrey and Sallie Buben, the husband-and-wife team behind the Fully-Baked Restaurant Group.
Wtf — short for Woodward Takeout Food — joins its fine-dining counterpart, Woodward Table, at 1430 H St. NW as the latest addition to a family that includes the award-winning Bistro Bis (15 E St. NW) and Vidalia (1990 M St. NW).
According to Sallie Buben, adding a grab-and-go option to their portfolio was a no- brainer once they moved into the old Potenza space. The previous tenants had operated a companion bakery in the adjoining annex, so locals were already used to popping by for travel-ready treats.
Carving out this new identity became a team effort, a challenge embraced by wtf’s culinary brain trust: founder Jeffrey Buben, executive sous chef Andrew Cleverdon (a Vidalia alumnus), chef de cuisine Joe Harran (Bistro Bis) and pastry chef Beverly Bates (Vidalia).
“The goal was to create unique sandwiches and flatbreads that you would not find in the typical sandwich shop,” Sallie Buben said.
The results are a far cry from anything slapped together at commercial hoagie dens.
Looking to fuel up before an a.m. huddle with “44”? Carb lovers can indulge in flaky ham-and-cheese scones, streusel-topped muffins or cakey slices of chocolate-banana bread embellished with a bonus shot of sticky marshmallow fluff.
Signature quiches showcase nature’s bounty. One memorable medley masterfully folded together sauteed spinach, tender mushrooms, caramelized shallots, custardy eggs and mellowing fontina within a crinkly brown crust.
Biting into the brawny chicken biscuit transported us to breakfast on the farm. The hearty repast ties together a host of country favorites, beginning with exceptional fried bird (succulent breast meat, zesty herb-studded skin) smothered in gooey cheddar, sizable strips of thick-cut smoky, crunchy bacon and warm buttermilk biscuits sweetened by generous swipes of honey butter.
The boastful Cure delivered on every promise. A juicy chorizo patty stoked each bite with spice-fueled heat while the roasted peppers, grilled onions and chipotle-sauced ciabatta piggybacked on the piquancy of the meat.
A reinterpretation of eggs Benedict — fashioned from cooked-to-order eggs (soft or hard), shaved pork loin and house-made tarragon aioli — seemed overhyped at first but slowly grew on us. During the initial experience, the only standouts were the perfectly toasted bread and over-easy eggs (lacey around the edges, brimming with silky warmth in the middle). A second tasting pulled it all together, thanks in no small part to the nutty accents imparted by the gruyere, the salty tang of the thinly sliced ham and tangy sauce that bests the messy, Sunday-best-ruining hollandaise by reducing it down to its finest elements (lemony tarragon packs citrus punch; doctored mayo luxuriates the palate).
Unlike their mall-bound counterparts, wtf’s cinnamon buns rely on understated sweetness rather than tooth-rotting excess. The pull-apart pastry is drizzled, not drowned, in glazed sugar and threaded with cheery cinnamon.
Searching for a little something to bring to the table while educating Treasury aides about why your pet tax provision MUST survive the fiscal cliff fight?
Crack the lid of a boxed gourmet flatbread, and let the aroma of artisan meats and cheeses do all the talking. We highly recommend Benton’s Own, a pork orgy splaying country ham (salty as all get out and slightly buttery), shredded ham hock (tender and barbecue-y) and bacon jam (savory-sweet) atop cheddar-laden dough.
Or you could offer to split one of the delicious sandwiches.
The duck Reuben is hard to resist. The impeccably grilled rye is thick and generously buttered. The shredded duck confit just about melted in our mouths. Red cabbage sauerkraut partnered with apple cider dressing added some pucker, while melted Swiss laid down a creamy vibe.
On the fence about offal? Bite your tongue! Or, better yet, wtf’s: Their take on corned beef surrounds the intentionally briny organ meat with zesty tapenade, smoky grilled onions, crisp lettuce and a blanket of chopped eggs.
Sallie Buben said she’s most enamored with the Chick Chick, a portable picnic lunch cramming fried chicken, bacon, bread-and-butter pickles and cranberry relish between a toasted bun, while Jeffrey Buben is purportedly all in on the Porky Pig, a smorgasbord of swine including apple-wood smoked bacon, mouthwatering serrano ham, pistachio-studded country-style pate and sumptuous bacon marmalade.
And there’s still more to come: Sallie Buben said the crew is currently experimenting with a fresh take on the veggie burger.
Now, whether you believe the Bubens’ claims that they didn’t give the eyebrow-raising name much thought, there’s no disputing they are enjoying the notoriety.
“Wish I had a nickel for everyone who stopped by and took their picture in front of the logo,” Sallie Buben said. Guess she’ll have to comfort herself with the $18.95 collected from the sale of each of the custom wtf hats they shrewdly stock.
wtf: 1430 H St. NW; 202-347-5355; woodwardtable.com. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.