Sunday, October 27, 2013

Marrow Brew n' Que at Three Little Pigs

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We recently attended a meat-lover's dream called the Marrow Brew n' Que.  Piloted by Chef Garret Fleming and Brian Pereira, Marrow will be the outdoor spit roast and barbeque area of Gristle, the new gastropub concept currently taking residency at Three Little Pigs with a series of intimate and creative dining events, until they open up their own space.  The philosophy as described on the website states: "Gristle serves food in an organic fashion - meat on bone, fish served whole. It is based on Chef Fleming's principle of conservation dining - using the entire organism rather than disposing of edible and often improperly executed parts that have the potential to be delectably divine."

Photo via Gristle website
The concept as explained to us in person by Chef Garret is that Gristle will be more refined with its menu, exploring comfort foods but in a progressive way and will change its eight-plate menu daily.  Gristle's down-to-earth sister, Marrow, will offer a more relaxed dining experience √† la "let's barbeque in the backyard with some music, beer, and friends."  The duo restaurant will focus on smoked meats, grilled sausages, and a variety of spit roast offerings including lamb, goat, duck, chicken, pheasant, kid, goose, wild boar, and suckling pig.  Talk about a meat-lover's dream!

Smoked & Roasted Shoat (baby pig)
At the Brew n' Que event, the focus was a test on Marrow.  We gathered in the "backyard" of Three Little Pigs on benches around a simple fire pit, with a large smoker grill off to the side.  The vibe was chill with soft music billowing out from the kitchen.  Since it was chilly this evening, the staff set up all the food inside buffet-style, so we lined up with our plates.  We were treated to creative and delicious sides to accompany the visceral meat offerings, along with a seasonal Abita amber beer from a keg and spiked hot apple cider.

Chef Garret and team served up roasted shoat, smoked brisket, and smoked andouille.
We helped ourselves to fresh biscuits, macaroni n' cheese "en croute", collard greens, beans, and pickles.
Keith loaded up his plate with a sampling of pretty much everything.  His favorite was the smoked brisket and the buttery biscuit.  Or, as he simply chanted: "Brisket & biscuit!"

Keith's plate with the smoked brisket as the star.
I enjoyed the smoked andouille sausage.  It reminded me of a spicier kielbasa and was very flavorful.  The roasted shoat was super tender, but a bit bland compared to the other items.  Chef Garret mentioned he tried a slightly different technique on the pig this time, so perhaps he hasn't quite perfected his approach yet.  The macaroni n' cheese "en croute" was made with loads of Gruyere, goat cheese, Fontina, and Vermont white cheddar topped with a puff pastry crust.  The cheese blend was delightful and rich, but I feel the casserole was a bit under cooked, as the sauce was runny and the pastry slightly doughy.  Nevertheless, I cleaned my plate.

My plate with a huge chunk of smoked andouille.
After all the food and beer, we were quite stuffed.  (It didn't help that extra piping hot biscuits were passed around a couple times, too!)  But we were told to save room for dessert.  Chef Garret had prepared a freshly baked apple turnover with Vermont white cheddar cheese.  What!?  Apple + cheese = delish.

I split open the flaky pastry in an attempt to show off the gooey cheese hugging the apples inside.
Chef Garret is still looking for a permanent space for his restaurant, hinting that he is eyeing a possible contender on Pennsylvania Ave in Capitol Hill as well as another location that might not be as amenable to the backyard Marrow theme.   My two cents?  Yes, chef.  Please come to Capitol Hill - there is so much foot traffic and other great chefs there too.  I feel the Gristle/Marrow concept is unique and would be a great addition to the neighborhood.  I'm intrigued to see what becomes of Gristle/Marrow, and wish Chef Garret, Brian, and team the best of luck.  Meanwhile, look out for other Gristle and Marrow pop-up dinners in the near future, as they are cooking up some interesting barbeque right here in DC.
Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi on Urbanspoon

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