“No pressure, right?” chuckles Eric Sakai, who opened Restaurant Marron in the old Olivar space in North Capitol Hill’s Loveless Building this summer. When he opened there, he was well aware that he was doing so around the corner from Nathan Lockwood’s Altura and across Broadway from Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy—two of the finest culinary destinations in town, run by chefs who can legitimately be called visionaries.
To be sure, Sakai’s own resume is no slouch. Trained at the CIA in Hyde Park, Sakai went on to cooking positions at the late Rubicon and Michelin-starred Acquerello in San Francisco, then with the Four Seasons folks. He opened Marron with his wife Zarina to fulfill a dream, in a town chosen for its youthful population and culinary sophistication.
It’s just that he picked a part of town known for its, well…culinary perfection.
“Ultimately I think it’s only a benefit for an area to have more people doing great things,” he reflects. “I think it’s better for everyone. It makes us try to be better every day. It pushes us. To be honest, [Zarina and I] count our blessings that we’re able to be in this community, with two very, very, very great chefs around the corner. I worked with Nate before, at Acquerello. I was a cook but he was chef de cuisine. And he is an excellent, excellent chef.”