“You’ve got some straight food porn right there,” a nosy neighbor said as she shamelessly leaned over to take the full measure of the parade of mouth-watering proteins being escorted to our rapidly shrinking table.
The unexpected intrusion quickly evolved into a full-blown discussion of cherished meat palaces, family grilling secrets and guilty pleasures — a bonding session fueled by mutual admiration for this temple to Paleolithic dieting.
Mind you, I can’t promise everyone will become besties with whomever they wind up seated next to at The Partisan (709 D St. NW). But the place certainly appears to have a cast a spell on charcuterie fans.
The long awaited project, the latest from the award-winning Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has sparked a bromance between its twin toques, Ed Witt and Nathan Anda.
Witt, who dazzled A-listers at 701 Restaurant before sliding over to the transitioning Hawk ‘n’ Dove for a hot minute, joined the NRG last fall. Anda has been the group’s resident meat packer for years, acclimating locals around to his kind of organ-meat-filled fun via multiple Red Apron Butchery locales while plotting the course for this even more adventurous Penn Quarter showcase.
The menu, which features contributions from across the animal kingdom (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, seafood), caters to the chefs’ combined strengths.
Anda has larded up the appetizer carte with nearly three dozen house-cured creations boasting herbs, spices and smoking techniques from the world over.
“Around 90 percent of our guests begin their meal with a charcuterie board,” Anda said of his highly prized meat candy, billing the Thai basil bresaola and bacon liverwurst as early favorites.
The bresaola took some getting used to. The first razor thin slice of glossy beef has some heartiness to it, but didn’t strike me as particularly exotic. Lime and a hint of ginger punched through as I allowed the second slice of buttery goodness to dissolve on my tongue.
Cayenne-spiked Andouille fired on all cylinders from the get-go, delivering three hunks of spicy sausage complemented by seductive roasted peppers.
And forget about hunting around for plain bread or crackers to pair with each lusty morsel. Team Partisan has come up with something much better.
The house bread is the tigelle, a baked flatbread that’s soft and chewy in the middle, but sports a firm, lightly browned crust.
“Many recipes were tried over the last three years, but the final one was adapted from a recipe in a book that was written 100 percent in Italian. Ed’s experience of writing menus in Italian at Il Buco helped us to be able to translate it,” an NRG spokeswoman said of Witt’s critical contribution to the cause.
Just make sure to leave enough room for everything else the kitchen has to offer.