Parts & Labor butchery passes the vegetarian test

By RENEE SCAVONE | April 5, 2018

In my tenure as a writer for Your Weekend, I have often sought out places that most Hopkins students probably haven’t heard of. To me, the point of this section is to get folks acquainted with this wild and wonderful City and to (hopefully) generate some hype about local businesses and events.

This week, however, I would instead like to use my corner of The News-Letter to issue a public apology:

Parts & Labor, I’m sorry. I was wrong.

Parts & Labor is a restaurant at the edge of the gentrified part of Remington that you’ve probably already heard of. It heralds itself as a responsibly sourced, whole animal butchery that also serves food and beer. It’s apparently a less weird combination than I thought.

Being in Remington means it’s within walking distance. From the south corner of campus, head down N. Howard Street; it’s right before 26th Street, and it shares a parking lot with Single Carrot Theatre.

I’ll admit, I’ve spent the last couple years highly skeptical of Parts & Labor. I knew it as the cousin of Woodberry Kitchen, a.k.a. the home of the $29 chicken and biscuits.

(OK, I’m sure that the chicken had a very happy life before it became a dinner. It’s still bougie as heck.)

So, by virtue of my two sweetest traits (stinginess and stubborness), I had managed to avoid P&L for my entire Hopkins career.

All this changed, however, when they offered $0.25 beers on St. Patrick’s Day. This was a phenomenal marketing tactic on their part, as I’m sure it attracted others like me. The entire front yard was packed.

Even when you’re not about to consume a case of beer for $6, the outdoor area of Parts & Labor is pretty nice. There are weird ring toss games and lots of wooden seating, as well as those giant heating lamps. I would definitely sit outside if there were no other available spaces.

And on St. Patrick’s Day there pretty much weren’t any. Before I had even tasted the food, I knew that the waitstaff were either total professionals, absolute angels or both. Having to navigate a sea of drunk adults with multiple plates of hot food is a true test of one’s character, and everyone I saw working passed with flying colors.

However, due to the aforementioned lack of seating room, I cannot fully rank the ambience of the restaurant. 

Instead, I stood by the deli counter and looked at the vast array of things for sale by the more shop-y part of the place. 

This was the section of Parts & Labor that fell most in line with my previous expectations. Maybe my palette is unrefined, but I’d rather pull my nails out than purchase artisanal cookies for about half as much as my tuition.

All that being said, the food itself is good, and it’s actually reasonably priced. Its vegetarian options were also definitely better than I expected for a place with so many animal carcasses hanging around. I learned that I actually like turnips (and also what a turnip is) via a special holiday dish. 

On their regular menu, I can vouch for their smoked trout dip, which is a justifiable $9, and their carrots with honey.

My chief complaint about the veggie options on this menu is that they’re very beet-heavy. I know approximately three people in this world who like beets, and one of them is my mother. I am unsure who this beet-loving population is. But, Parts & Labor is catering to them, so I guess I am happy for them.

I recognize, despite my own personal preferences, it would be foolish to review a butchery without some statement about the available meat dishes. I asked three separate friends about their experiences, and all of them almost immediately hailed the “Dad Bod,” a sandwich that features smoked ham, beef and Polish sausage. It’s a little pricey for a sandwich ($16) but apparently totally worth it.

Overall, Parts & Labor was a lot more affordable than I thought, and it had a much more pleasant atmosphere. This vegetarian is glad she gave this butchery a shot.

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