Oz, a new Australian restaurant in Clarendon, has started serving traditional dishes like Rissole eggs, meat pies and fish and chips as part of its soft opening.
The restaurant was open for dinner yesterday. The soft opening continues today with dinner from 5-9 p.m. Full service, including lunch and happy hour, will potentially start on Friday, said co-owner Ashley Darby.
Once fully opened, the restaurant will serve dinner seven days a week, with brunch on Saturday and Sundays and lunch on Wednesdays through Fridays.
The restaurant serves authentic Australian cuisine, Darby said, adding that the food is new to many of the restaurant staff, including herself.
“We’re all learning as we go,” said Darby, who was crowned Miss D.C. in 2011.
Darby co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Michael, who is an Australian native and the co-founder of local real estate development firm Monument Realty.
A few waiters and one of the hostesses are also from Australia, Darby said.
The Australian theme extends past the food. The interior of the restaurant is designed to have elements reminiscent of a house on the outback, Darby said.
The main dining room represents the inside of the house that has just seen a brush fire, she said. The back wall is made up of alternating light and dark wood panels to give the impression of “trees scorched by fire,” Darby said. Aboriginal artwork, including painted boomerangs, are hung around the room.
Guest have the option to sit in the covered “porch,” with vines hanging across the walls to make it feel as if the guests are on the front porch of a house.
Customers can grab a traditional Australian drink at the bar and enjoy it under an “open” sky. The bar was designed to look like the back deck of the house, with the ceiling painted like an outback sky. The bar has a small lounge area, with copper tones and a backsplash made to look like sand dunes, Darby said.
In addition to the seating inside, the restaurant offers outdoor seating along its front and side. The Australian theme does not get carried outside, Darby said.
So far, Darby says she has heard good things from customers, adding that there are a few taste adjustments the restaurant will make.
“I think people are curious and willing to try, and [they] come in open-minded,” Darby said.