Occidental Wine Room In Downtown D.C.

Occidental's new Wine Room dazzles

After a century, a restaurant could probably start to rest on its laurels.

But in honor of its 105th birthday, Occidental has gotten serious. Long a tourist stop and family go-to, the restaurant is becoming a dining destination, thanks to its new Wine Room.

The small, newly renovated 24-seat space hosts a five-course dinner ($110) that changes nightly and comes paired with wines selected by the room's dedicated sommelier.

Chef Rodney Scruggs works with top area farmers to source produce, meat and seafood for each day's menu.

Craig Rogers of Border Springs provides tender, slightly gamey lamb loin, which Scruggs marinates in garlic and olive oil, grills to medium-rare and serves with jammy Spanish wine.

A jumbo scallop arrives rare, its half-shell base set on thinly sliced grilled pork belly from Virginia's J & L Green Farm. Halibut flies the flag of spring: The pan-seared fish is speared with chive blossoms over an island of morels and spring onions, and paired with a glass of crisp GrĂ¼ner Veltliner.

If Scruggs's first menus for the space are any indication, food fiends may soon replace fanny packs at Occidental.

The Wine Room at Occidental, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (between 14th & 15th sts.); 202-783-1475 or occidentaldc.com