Lots of movement for EatWell alumni this week. Here's the latest: The Pig's Garret Fleming has left his job at the pork-centric restaurant and has plans to strike out on his own with a new gastropub highlighting foraged ingredients this fall.
Fleming says he has been working on the idea for his own place for about five years now. He's keeping the name under wraps, and is in negotiations for a space in an "edgy neighborhood" in D.C., though he wouldn't specify yet. The gastropub will have about 40-45 seats and a menu of about 18 items that will change daily. "Local and sustainable and all those other buzzwords are important, but at the end of the day, you want a meal that's going to be made out of the best ingredients available at that moment," he said. Fleming and his business partner Brian Pereira (a business strategist and — fun fact — national Judo champion) were inspired by their chef friend Bun Lai's Connecticut restaurant, where he fashions sushi out of items such as clams that he foraged that day.
Fleming knows every palate is different, but he's excited about the sense of control he'll have when he opens his own place. "At least I know that everyone who came into my restaurant will have a controlled dining experience, and that we put our best out there," he said. He plans to host two pop-up dinners beginning in June (likely at LivingSocial's events space) that will highlight what he wants to accomplish with the restaurant, and then will shoot for a fall opening (probably late September or early October).
Fleming spent some time in fine dining restaurants in Maine, and came to D.C. and took a gig at Eatonville, where he found that soul food rather than Southern dining wasn't necessarily his thing. "As much as I love fried chicken and everyone loves fried chicken, there's something very soul crushing about making 95 percent fried chicken every night," he said. He also found the size of the restaurant overwhelming, a phenomenon he again experienced during a brief stint at Lincoln.
He came to The Pig about a year ago, and got the chance to work on food that he was "super excited about." But he kept thinking in the back of his head that he truly was ready to strike out on his own. "At the end of the day, there are always going to be issues working for someone else," he said. "I think I became emboldened by the success we had at The Pig to think about where I go from there."
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