Returning to the city that gave him his start as a professional chef, Eric Ziebold will open CityZen, the signature dining restaurant at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., on September 15. The accomplished chef, who has lent his talents to Napa Valley’s The French Laundry, widely regarded as the finest restaurant in America, for the last eight years, will bring his culinary flair, vision and creativity to the new restaurant. Ziebold calls his distinct style of cuisine modern American. “American cuisine is rooted in tradition, but there is an openness to new interpretations - new flavors, new adaptations - which doesn’t exist in traditional world cuisines,” explained Ziebold. “We’ll apply traditional French cooking techniques to our dishes - things like ‘Foie Gras Risotto with Roasted Granny Smith Apple,’ ‘Braised Veal Tail,’ and ‘Brandade Soup.’ My vision is to create delectable, exciting flavor combinations and offer new twists on old standards such as Chicken and Dumplings.”
Chef Ziebold’s culinary vision will be presented in two menus, a three-course prixe fixe menu starting from $70 or a five-course chef’s tasting menu priced from $90. With the three-course prix fixe menu guests will enjoy an appetizer, entrée and dessert. While prepared with French techniques, items from this menu will offer an updated American interpretation with the chef’s creative twist. The five-course tasting chef’s tasting menu draws inspiration from Ziebold’s traditional background and is presented with a modern, open flair.
Different elements will draw guests to this warm, comfortable and contemporary mixed-use space. Diners desiring a world-class culinary experience can reserve a table in the 70-seat dining room with the open kitchen and be pampered by an attentive service team. For guests that want a lively atmosphere, they can sit at the bar and enjoy a signature cocktail or sample a treat from the bar menu. And for guests who desire “to see and be seen” they will want one of the tables in the lounge area. Whatever the reason for gathering at CityZen people will have a community sense of place.
Combining American wood, French limestone, stainless steel, high ceilings, decorative lighting and textured fabrics diners will feel as if they have stepped into a contemporary design of a grand dining hall. Entering through tall glass double doors etched with swirls, guest journey into a world of mystery and intrigue, yet seemingly familiar. Just as in a home, the wall of fire, a focal point upon entering CityZen, is the heart of the space, encouraging guests to receive warmth and comfort during their visit. Decorative lighting of old-world style chandeliers, oversized lamps and textured fabrics of velvet, chenille, and silk help create a warm and cozy ambiance. The space, while grand in scale lends itself to an intimate neighborhood feel.
Other members of the CityZen kitchen include the husband and wife duo, Aaron and Jewel Zimmer, sous chef and pastry chef respectively. Ma”tre d’h™tel Mark Politzer and Sommelier Christopher J. Hile complete the restaurant team.
CityZen is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. The bar is open Tuesday through Thursday 5 - 11:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 12:30 a.m. For reservations or inquires about private dinners in CityZen please call (202) 787-6868.
Ziebold had served at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, in Yountville, California, since 1996, most recently as chef de cuisine, a post he assumed in 1999. He assisted in the creation of Per Se, Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant, and helped in the reopening of The French Laundry in May before joining Mandarin Oriental in June. Ziebold joined The French Laundry as chef de partie and worked through various stations in the brigade, progressing and fine-turning his skills. Prior to his position with The French Laundry, Ziebold was chef de partie of Spago Restaurant, in Los Angeles, another legendary restaurant in the culinary world. Vidalia restaurant was his home base in Washington, D.C., where he served from 1994 - 1995 as chef de partie, saucier and poissonier.
A graduate with honors of the Culinary Institute of America, Ziebold was part of the class of 1994. However, his affinity for cooking started long before, in his mom’s kitchen growing up in Iowa. He started working in restaurants when he was 16 years old and hasn’t looked back since. “I really fell in love with the lifestyle - the creativity, passion and commitment of those around me. It was contagious.”
Among his greatest inspirations, in addition to his mom, are Thomas Keller and Matt Nichols. He first worked with Nichols in his home state of Iowa, and Nichols later brought Ziebold on at Spago where he was executive chef.