Sign In or Register here


NIBBLES AND SIPS/The Occidental, Forever Young

Jordan Wright
By Jordan Wright
Posted on Aug 30,2012
Filed Under Restaurants , Local Tastes,
Share  


Photo by Jordan Wright<br /> <br />Executive Chef Rodney Scruggs has been steering the kitchen's progress over the past seven years buying locally as much as he can and delivering the kind of elegant dishes his guests expect.
Photo by Jordan Wright
Executive Chef Rodney Scruggs has been steering the kitchen's progress over the past seven years buying locally as much as he can and delivering the kind of elegant dishes his guests expect.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the shadow of the White House a special watering hole welcomes celebrities, power brokers and out-of-towners in equal measure. 

Photo by Jordan Wright <br /> <br />Occidental Grill and Seafood Executive Chef Rodney Scruggs<br />
Photo by Jordan Wright
Occidental Grill and Seafood Executive Chef
Rodney Scruggs

The Occidental Grill and Seafood situated beside the Willard Hotel continues its reputation as a swank establishment where legions of notable devotees have long gathered to drink, dine, swap State secrets, and make policy.  
 
That it continues to attract both the well-heeled and influential for over one hundred years is a tribute to its reverence for fine food and superb service.  
 
But what’s more impressive is, though it boasts a clientele of famous politicians and a roster of international scene-stealers, The Occidental has kept pace with the contemporary food scene.  
 
It’s one DC spot that doesn’t rest on its considerably august laurels but continues to forge ahead with innovative American cuisine.  

Executive Chef Rodney Scruggs has been steering the kitchen’s progress over the past seven years buying locally as much as he can and delivering the kind of elegant dishes his guests expect.  
 
Oysters hail from War Shore Oysters and sustainable seafood is delivered six days a week from Prime Seafood

Photo by Jordan Wright <br /> <br />Before the lunch rush at the Occidental <br />
Photo by Jordan Wright
Before the lunch rush at the Occidental

On a recent visit he beamed like a proud papa over a tray of biodynamically-raised heirloom tomatoes from Virginia’s Whipple Farms and patiently explained how Molly Visosky’s famers co-op, The Fresh Link a system that links farms, food artisans and farmers markets, provides the restaurant with the best local produce farmers have to offer on any given week.   
 
The spectacular steaks the Occidental is known for are from Rosetta Farms in Baltimore County who supply Scruggs with top quality naturally raised meat.

The recent hire of Chef de Cuisine Matt Baker ups the game with his edgy twist to food styling and concept.  
 
Also new is Mixologist/Sommelier Jo-Jo Valenzuela who is quite literally stirring things up with craft sodas and artisanal cocktails, plucking sprigs from the hotel’s herb garden and hunting down exotic spices, to create infused liquors and bring a fresh creative approach to the overall program.

Photo by Jordan Wright <br /><br />Lobster roll with fennel at the Occidental<br />
Photo by Jordan Wright
Lobster roll with fennel at the Occidental

Last week over Maryland lump crab cakes, yellow fin tuna burgers and lobster rolls with fresh fennel, and pleasantly ensconced beneath hundreds of framed photographs of the restaurant’s legendary clientele, tales of the town were swapped with a convivial group that included Metropolitan Opera star Alessandra Marc, über-defense lawyer and former DC Baseball Commissioner, Marc Tuohey III, National Theatre’s Executive Director Tom Lee, and Sean Graystone who currently oversees the restoration of the magnificent Temple of the Scottish Rite one of DC’s most iconic historic buildings.  

As we talked our indoor table looked out over the pretty patio with its royal blue umbrellas and cast iron jardinères and window boxes spilling over with herbs and bright pink flowers reminiscent of a sidewalk café along the Champs Élysées.  
 
You could almost sense the city’s original designer, Pierre L’Enfant, smiling down in approval, his vision realized and still very much alive.

Photo by Jordan Wright <br /> <br />The Occidental Cafe
Photo by Jordan Wright
The Occidental Cafe




Loading Loading..


Shopping and Services Guide


Exclusive deals from the best locals!

Browse our highlighted partners
Spas, retailers, restaurants and…
so much more.