Seasoned chef Will Artley, who cooked at both the White House and Grist Mill Restaurant, is moving back to D.C. after a short stint in Florida in order to lead the kitchen at Penn Quarter’s anticipated Scotts Restaurant, Bar & Cask Club.
The Chopped competitor was named executive chef of the new upscale restaurant British hospitality vet Simon Lowe plans to unveil this fall at 927 F Street NW. The two-part experience includes the 3,500-square-foot Scotts Restaurant, projected to feature lots of seafood and roasted meats served off a rolling cart, as well as a 850-square-foot members-only drinking club accessed via a thumbprint scanner.
Artley is currently making the road trip back to D.C.; he was most recently a chef at Kimpton Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach, Fla. for the past 10 months where his family is based.
“I said I wouldn’t go back to D.C. unless it was something really special. Simon’s success is pretty remarkable,” says Artley, adding his stepdaughters gave him the “green light” to go.
Artley tells Eater he’s getting to work right away, teasing out Scotts’ upcoming menu via a pop-up series at Alexandria’s Bastille. The five-course tasting dinners ($55), kicking off this month, will likely include his signature BLT gnocchi with applewood smoked bacon, spinach gnocchi, truffle cream, and preserved tomato, as well as a popcorn agnolotti with smoked hamhock broth — a test dish he says sealed the deal with his new British boss.
So far, Scotts’ opening menu calls for assorted seafood offerings (raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, sushi), composed dishes (turkey burgers, crab cakes, New York strip), and daily specials (soups, pastas, catch of the day).
Hearing D.C. has become an extremely heated spot to compete for talent, Artley’s already recruited two 24-year-old sous chefs from other cities. He worked with Cody Shoemaker at the Kimpton property, and the other is Shoemaker’s best friend, a chef making the move from Colorado.
“They are my young guns and brilliant in their craft. I want to give these guys a taste of the big city. It’s been all-day text fests of what we’re going to do,” he says.
On his to-do list when he returns to D.C.: Check out restaurant openings he’s missed, like all the offerings at the Line hotel, catch up with chef friends like Nick Stefanelli (Masseria), and rejoin his D.C. racing group. The Ironman competitor admits he’s gained some weight while in Florida.
Artley says he’s usually the one “fixing up” existing restaurants, and he’s happy Scotts will be the first he gets to start. He says the team is shooting for a September or October opening for Scotts, which is sliding into the space formerly occupied by Co. Co Sala.
Expect seating for 70 in the main dining room, with room for another 45 at the Long Bar. The Cask Club is a separate venture available to those who pay the $495 annual fee. It will have a private entrance, seating for 35 in a personal library-like space with a fireplace, and access to select spirits carried by the associated Scotch Malt Whisky Society.