If you are facing one of those feeling-lazy days, you need a dose of Seth McClelland, executive chef and co-owner of Dupont Circle's One Lounge. This Hollywood-handsome chef cooks for a place that is a mix of restaurant, hang-out and nighttime lounge, and his menu reflects that same eclectic spirit.
An Alexandria native -- it means a lot to be a local, he says -- he feels like he has become something of a unique character in this transient community. "This is something I compare," he said, "Washington and politicians to Hollywood and the movies. You shouldn't separate yourself from the community. That is why I lived in Dupont Circle." And that is how McClelland knew about the space when the former restaurant vacated it.
Attracted to cooking and all things culinary since childhood, McClelland talks about how his mother, a very good cook, set a good example for the youngster, who had enough savvy and independence to fix his own snack when he got home from school. "First, I learned how to scramble eggs and to take them from the bowl to the pan," he said. "After I ate eggs for a few days, I moved on to omelets with mushrooms and ham. I even taught myself how to flip it over." By the time he turned 12, McClelland was compiling Christmas dinners for the whole family.
|If you go|
|» Where: 1606 20th St. NW|
|» Info: 202-299-0909; http://oneloungedc.com/|
|» Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday to Saturday, closed Sunday|
By the time he turned 14, he knew he loved to cook, but never really considered a culinary career. Instead, after college McClelland pursued a career in the real estate field, working for a developer. "I was the guy in the field designing buildings," he said. "I was the one working with the contractors."
But several years ago, one of his mentors suggested that McClelland take a break from real estate. And that's when he strolled by and found the site for his current restaurant. "I understood all the real estate aspects of it," he explained of the site. "That was a real bonus, because I designed and built this place with a crew."
At last, he turned his attention to what is probably his first passion: cooking. "I have a real love affair with food," he said. "[Cooking] is one of the things I do really well. If I smell a dish, I can cook it or even if I see someone doing it, I can replicate it."
To key into the young, hip atmosphere of Dupont Circle, McClelland devised a menu that plays well with the funky setting of bar-lounge-dining room. "I have kept the food international and young," he said.
What is your comfort food?
Spaghetti and sausage, single malt Scotch, and ramen noodles
Which is your favorite restaurant?
My enjoyment is related to my mood. I go to Fiola for good service, etc., With friends and we order a lot, I go to Proof, Zaytinya and to Fairlington Pizza. A Greek lady makes a chicken parmesan sandwich.
What advice would you give to home cooks?
Cook what you like. Stay away from butter. Especially as a chef, when I make steak, house-creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, I can taste it.
What's in your fridge?
Salad stuff, veggies, sandwich meat. It used to be stocked, but now I work here. Now I make ramen noodles.
Which chef do you admire most in the world?
My grandmother...so many people who cook at home who are really good.
Lamb Mini Burgers
Makes 16 sliders
As Seth McClellan says, "I love throwing cookouts in the summertime and here are a few tips to make your next one a success! ... Try to have a veggie item and a non-pork item in case a friend has dietary issues. Pick a signature cocktail that your guests can make and supply those ingredients; it will get people involved and they can bring their own stuff, too." He suggests serving these with a cilantro-lime cr?me fra?che, olive tapenade, grilled asparagus and a cilantro-lime gin gimlet.
2 pounds ground lamb
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 egg white
Sea salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste
Favorite slider buns, such as Martin's potato buns
Fresh mozzarella cheese slices
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground lamb, chopped rosemary, cilantro, garlic, egg white, and salt and pepper. Add appropriate amounts of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. It is best if the lamb is at room temperature. Once combined, form 2-ounce patties and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
To serve, grill the burgers over hot coals or over a hot grill. Remove from the heat, top with the mozzarella slices and place in buns. Top with cr?me fra?che and olive tapenade, if available.