While sitting at the L-shaped bar inside Remington's Parts & Labor on a recent Wednesday evening, it was easy to get distracted.
There was no doubt we were in a restaurant attached to a premium butcher shop: Beautiful hunks of meat were on full display, cooking on the large, open grill that greets eyes and noses upon entering. An employee prepared more meat with a gliding slicer that moved so gracefully that I could not help but wonder its cost. Jimi Hendrix's “Purple Haze,” played at a level that still encouraged conversation, added to the atmosphere's unstuffy comfort.
Parts & Labor, which opened in late April and is owned by Woodberry Kitchen's Amy and Spike Gjerde, should have no trouble exciting the senses. (A constant aroma of cooked pork and beef will do that.) But do not miss the bar, which consistently impressed as well.
Even before we sat down, the striking bar — accented with rich woods of varying colors — drew attention. Three shelves prominently present high-end spirits, while two rows of 24 unmarked taps round out the draft beer selection. The menu offers cocktails, cider, mead and brief descriptions of the beers (including brewing location, type and alcohol by volume content). Beers can be ordered in a full glass or five-ounce “Pony” version.
We took seats closest to where food is prepared since Parts & Labor practically beams with pride over its products and dishes. Throughout our visit, we worked with two bartenders eager to answer questions and provide background information on our orders. It was refreshing to not feel as if we were assigned to one employee, but we were rather the entire staff's responsibility as a whole. Glasses were promptly filled, and everyone was happy.
The bar program shows care and thoughtfulness, which is common for a Gjerde operation. There were eight libations available, and we began with the golden-colored Tewpac ($10), which looked like a ginger ale filled to the brim with ice, but contained more interesting flavors. A portion of the robust flavor comes from mixing two types of rum (Rhode Island's Thomas Tew dark amber rum and the recently released Busted Barrel silver rum from New Jersey) and Snap (a traditional ginger snap-flavored liqueur by Art in the Age), but it was the in-house plum syrup that really made the drink sing.
Parts & Labor finds flavor through mixing brands of the same alcohol, and the Tewpac was not the lone example. The Wild Provisions ($13) combines West Virginia barrel-aged Smooth Ambler gin with Washington's Green Hat Summer gin. The boldly bitter Amere Sauvage spirit, another element, added a sense of earthiness that grounded the cocktail nicely.
The beer list, which featured nine types brewed in Maryland, offers enough of a reason to return. Beer and meat will forever harmonize, and the seemingly endless possible combinations at Parts & Labor only add to the allure.
On this visit, we remained in state. The medium-bodied Jackspot Amber ($6.50) by Ocean City's Fin City Brewing (and named after the town's Jackspot Reef, according to the menu) had a slightly sweet finish that pleasantly surprised.
Next was the Gose Gone Wild ($9), a collaboration between Baltimore's Stillwater Artisanal Ales and South Carolina's Westbrook Brewing. After ordering, my bartender double-checked to make sure I liked sour beers, which demonstrated thoughtfulness and a clear understanding of the menu. The beer was incredibly tart, which could easily turn off an uninformed patron. In this case, the effect was addictive. A friend compared it to the intense hard candy Warheads, and it was not much of an overstatement.
On this weekday night, Parts & Labor delivered a wholly satisfying experience. From the bar program to the ambiance and service, it offered multiple reasons to come to Remington — for city residents and out-of-towners alike — and it was easy to tell this crowd agreed. When we arrived, 10 patrons dotted the dining room and bar area. When we left, it had ballooned to more than 50. They seemed eager to dive into everything Parts & Labor had to offer. I could not blame them.