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If The Passenger and Rappahannock Oyster Bar had a baby, it’d probably be Eat The Rich. That’s the way The Passenger co-owner Derek Brown describes the new Shaw oyster bar he’s opening Saturday in collaboration with Rappahannock co-owner Travis Croxton.
The two met, of all places, at a G Love concert in Frederick, Md.—not because they both love G Love, but because Brown was making cocktails and Croxton was slinging oysters in the VIP tent for a charity benefit. “We immediately bonded over music,” Brown says. “Punk rock, metal, old school hip-hop. It was like instant friendship.” Croxton invited Brown down to his oyster farm on the Chesapeake. “We came to the conclusion that his oysters are the best I’ve ever had,” Brown says. “And so it was a no-brainer. We were like, ‘Let’s do something together.'”
Eat The Rich, located at 1839 7th St. NW next to Brown’s ham and sherry bar Mockingbird Hill, gets its name from the Motörhead song. And you can bet the soundtrack for the bar will be all the music Brown and Croxton initially bonded over.
The layout of Eat The Rich is very similar to Mockingbird Hill with a long bar in the front and a smaller back room with additional seating. Paintings of sea monster skeletons—including Chessie, the Loch Ness Monster of the Chesapeake—line the wall in that back room, and light fixtures made out of oyster cages hang from the ceiling.
Chef Julien Shapiro, who also oversees Mockingbird Hill, has put together a menu highlighting seafood from the Chesapeake and mid-Atlantic. There will, of course, be Rappahannock’s signature oysters—Olde Salts, Sting Rays, and Rappahannocks—for $21 per dozen plus other raw bar items like clams and caviar served with Route 11 potato chips. Other dishes include Chesapeake eel pie, whelks, sea bream for two, leg of lamb, and scallops with rutabagas and sour cream. Expect crab feasts in the summer.
Rob Tinney, formerly a bartender at Columbia Room, oversees the drink menu, which highlights sparkling wines, classic cocktails, pitcher cocktails, and oyster shooters. There are three types of shooters created around different types of oysters. Among them: the Bacon Torpedo with bacon fat-washed vodka, hot sauce, and bits of Benton’s bacon as well as the Oyster Back, which is like a pickle back, with an oyster in pickle brine and a shot of whiskey. The four pitcher cocktails include a mezcal-based drink with apple, a take on a bourbon buck, beer and housemade clamato juice, and a twist on a gin martini.
“The oyster shooter and the pitcher cocktail are two things that have kind of been maligned a little bit,” Brown says. “And ultimately what we wanted to say is you can make anything great if you put care into making it, you use the same principles you use behind classic cocktails, and that you do your best to use great ingredients.”
Photos by Jessica Sidman