Think The Pig, but for poultry. EatWell DC is following its pork-centric restaurant with a Shaw spot called The Bird. As the name suggests, the place will highlight feathered creatures like chicken, duck, squab, quail, turkey, and grouse.
The Pig chef Michael Bonk will oversee the menu at The Bird and is also becoming a partner in the business. EatWellDC co-owner David Winer says they were initially going to open a fast casual fried chicken spot downtown, but the real estate deal fell apart. (Fried chicken has long been the no. 1 seller on sister restaurant Logan Tavern's dinner menu.) They ultimately found a two-story building at 1337 11 St. NWthat was better suited for a full-service restaurant. Bonk had already spent months working on fried chicken recipes, so they expanded the idea to include all kinds of poultry.
Aside from fried chicken, other dishes might include seasonally changing variations of chicken soup or a whole roast chicken. While birds of all types are the main attraction, some seafood or another protein could still sneak on the menu. Vegetables will also get a lot of play.
Unlike The Pig, which makes menu changes almost daily, The Bird's menu will most likely rotate seasonally. Winer also expects the menu will be "more globally inspired" and feature lighter dishes than The Pig.
Winer is also done with small plates or "share plates," so expect a format of appetizers, entrees, and larger platters for the table. "The waiter having to explain the menu to people who've eaten in restaurants 17,000 times in their life is so worn through," he says.
The restaurant will have a small dining room and bar downstairs plus additional seating and another small bar upstairs that opens up to the outside. A second floor terrace will be used for a more casual lounge where there's no pressure to order a full meal. Winer plans to bring in a bunch of local artists to decorate each room differently from the next. Within certain parameters, he wants them to just do their own thing, whether it's decoupage or spray paint.
"There's an arms race in Washington, D.C. right now. It is who can build the most stunningly unique but always the same restaurant," Winer says. "Were not going to enter this arm's race. I'm going to go the opposite path ... not do the farm look or the industrial look, but be something really playful."
The Bird isn't slated to open until late summer, The Pig may be converted into a pop-up for The Bird for a few days this spring. As for that fried chicken joint that was initially planned? "It's off the radar, but it's not off the list of possibilities," Winer says.