All words: Svetlana Legetic
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
As we have mentioned before in our Red Apron & The Partisan first looks (click here and here respectively), there is A LOT to be excited about the new Neighborhood Restaurant Group/Nate Anda operation in Penn Quarter. So, after things have settled around a bit during the first post-opening hype, we stopped by for a meal and report back.
As we arrived nice and early (BYT eats early and often, always) in order to scout out Jeff Faile’s cocktail offerings, the bar area was poppin’. “Poppin'” is an awful word, you don’t have to tell US that, but it is an accurate description of what we encountered. The fact that The Partisan just launched an early happy hour style menu called APERITIVO from 4-6pm probably helps.
In the spirit of the Italian pre-dinner ritual, those two hours were designed to “encourages guests to unwind from the day and start the evening with some small bites from the bar menu (all priced between $4-$7), or a sampling of charcuterie, while sipping on Faile’s favorite aperitifs (which include: Dolin Rocks, a Dolin Blanc on ice with a twist; Rosa & Lemon, Cocchi Americano Rosa, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon; and Fernet + Ginger, Vallet Mexican Fernet, Fever Tree Ginger Ale, all of which taste as good as they sound) On the food side, The Partisan bar menu includes Red Apron’s lardo, jowl ham or salami wrapped around fried dough sticks, Tigelle Bologna & Cheese & Tigelle Burger, and snacks such as BBQ Pork Rinds and Beef Fat Fries with ranch aioli.
Now, if that proves to NOT be enough/ just whets your appetite, you’re in luck-because the full menu is a natural extension of the meat love everyone involved feels. Chef Ed Witt’s menu is up by animal (beef, poultry, pork and fish) and size of the plate (small, medium, large) and we highly recommend playing the field across all categories and all the categories in all the categories (an added bonus to coming early to dinner: a more leisurely pace to work your way through the inevitable over-ordering.
Obviously, the charcuterie menu is a must-with over 30 rotating selections, you get to choose sushi-menu style your perfect meat starter adventure for the table. No matter what you go with (and if you are overwhelmed, no worries-the staff is very knowledgeable and patient) – make sure to load up on the tigelle, Anda’s crumpet like bread (which Red Apron also uses in their breakfast sandwiches) that seems to go (almost a little too) perfectly with everything on the menu.
On the lighter side of things to start with, or accompany your larger meat plates that are coming, we loved the shaved radishes and the roasted mushroom and kale salad, and while we left without trying it, the Fennel and Citrus Salad and the brussel sprout slaw seemed like great springtime additions to any meal.
But lets face it, you’re here for the meat. From the homemade Bolognese (with guanciale AND HEART ragu) to the bollito misto to the much talked about half-head of a pig and the triple stack burger, this is officially DC’s non-vegetarian church.
Having said that, the stand-out surprise dish of the night turns out to be: chicken. Chicken seems to be having a bit of a moment as an unexpected menu favorite of BYT staff, and this one earns its position without question.
The name: ROTISSI-FRIED CHICKEN says it all: half roasted, half fried and smothered in spicy honey hot sauce, it somehow embodies everything you always wanted in a chicken but didn’t really know how to achieve yourself. Thankfully for you, Anda and Witt have. Add a side order of yukon gold mashed potatoes and you’re in forever-favorite-comfort-food-meal business. The fact that it handily comes in full OR half chicken options is a bonus, because trust us, you may not want to share.
The beer selection is obviously great (as anticipated from a Greg Engert curated menu) but we do recommend chatting to Brent Kroll, NRG’s wine director and working your way through some fun, unexpected grape pairings, even for those of you dining with dyed-in-the-wool beer fans.
And, of course, save room for dessert. It will be hard, we know, but the snickers terrine (just look at that picture below) or the fried apple pie by Tiffany MacIsaac is worth it. And their fernet ice cream float may be the best palate cleansing idea we’ve heard in a while.
To sum up: come early, stay late.
The Partisan is located at 709 D Street NW, click here for details and reservations.