The images of George W. Bush dancing on the Oval Office desk in Texas-flag briefs, a bottle in his hand and a lady swinging from the curtains, President Barack Obama smoking a blunt, Bill Clinton as a centaur, with a saxophone in his mouth and Monica humped on his back. There’s a pope spanking a little boy over his knee. Anita Hill in a slinky red dress, giving a come-hither glance to a Clarence Thomas figure. . . who is hoisting the scales of justice. All the provocative images were removed when customers telephone the new restaurant with complaints about the scandalous images. Below are two of the controversial images of Bush and God…by now the other scandalous images have been painted over in the restaurant.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 4, 2011 – SAX, an entertainment venue featuring live cabaret and allegorical art installations, will open to the public on Friday, May 13. The SAX experience, from shocking paintings and elegant, erotic performances to a luxurious menu of modern French small plates and decadent cocktails, is an atmosphere lavishly unique in Washington, D.C.
The lounge will open seven days a week, by reservation only. On Sunday evenings, the entertainment will cater to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. SAX is the third restaurant and lounge by Errol Lawrence and Nancy Koide, who also own OYA and SEI in Penn Quarter.
“We conceptualized SAX as a lavish, exclusive lounge with provocative entertainment and a decadent menu to match,” said Nancy Koide, Co-Owner, SAX. “The murals, portraits and performers showcase art and entertainment unlike anything D.C. has today. It’s a glamorous, delicious and unique destination in this part of the country.”
A 20-foot enclosed infinity stage is visible from all angles of the two-story space, which will host costumed cabaret performers throughout the evening. Entertainment will range from illusionists and mimes to alluring performances that border on burlesque as the evening continues. Hillary Wright, an award-winning choreographer and performer, will expertly orchestrate the in-house troupe.
THE SAX SCANDALS
Allegory meets contemporary art with “The SAX Scandals,” satirical murals and portraits of political and religious figures and their vices. The art, much like the SAX experience, is over the top and invites guests to enter a world of fantasy, pushing the envelope of allure and corruption. These paintings are artist Balage Balogh’s interpretation of the hypocrisy demonstrated by some politicians and religious leaders, and the images bring the taboo subjects of sex, politics and religion to the forefront of conversation.
“SAX is the incarnation of power, sex and money, a place that both entertains and provokes discussion about the scandalous events in Washington and throughout history,” said Errol Lawrence, Co-Owner, SAX. “The paintings are art first and truth second — a catalyst for forbidden dialogue in an otherwise conservative town.”
SAX’s opulent 9,700-square-foot, two-story space, reflects a modern French design, plush with gilded and faux-marbled columns, hand-button tufted damask banquettes and inlaid medallion tabletops. Authentic reclaimed church doors mark the entryway from the crystal-adorned vestibule into SAX, and red-corded curtains lead to the main dining room, which is adorned with 30 wall sconces and nine large chandeliers surrounding the perimeter balconies. All of the sconces and chandeliers are antique period pieces updated for the 21st century.
Led by the owners’ creative vision, designer Maggie O’Neill of O’Neill Studios and Mario De Armas of Lamby Productions executed all interior finishing, artwork, and architectural embellishments, including plasterwork for the walls, design of the ceiling medallion, gold leaf on the walls and columns, and a custom bar and tabletops. Designer Chad Allen was responsible for all of the custom wall panels, moldings, and fabrics, including the drapery. Throughout the space, a series of provocative murals by artist Balage Balogh and narrative portraits by artist Melissa Shatto skewer D.C. scandals and political and religious figures.
THE MENU AND THE CHEF
Like the interior design, the dinner menu is modern French-influenced, featuring sensual and satisfying small plates meant to be enjoyed without utensils. European fondues, flatbreads, canapés and main selections will pair with an extensive list of cocktails, beer and wine.
With more than 10 selections by the glass and 50 by the bottle, SAX will boast one of the largest sparkling wine lists in the city, plus a number of larger-format magnums and jeroboams. Sommelier Andrew Stover also selected Ridgeview ‘South Ridge’ Classic Cuvee Brut from Sussex, England. SAX is the only lounge in Washington, D.C., to carry this sparkling wine. Regional Operations Director Arris Noble has also replaced traditional bottle service with minibar packages featuring 375 ml bottles of choice spirits and food pairings. Cocktails made with gold leaf, edible flowers and liquid nitrogen complement the whimsical, decadent atmosphere.
Jonathan Seningen is the Executive Chef of SAX, and before opening the restaurant and lounge he oversaw the menu at OYA.
Seningen is a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After stints in local restaurants, Seningen left the U.S. at age 20 and took a position as Sous Chef in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, at the Frenchman’s Reef Marriott. There, he opened five on-site restaurants and ran the banquet division. At 23, he decided to try his luck on a larger island and enrolled in Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute. His first position after graduation was at Atlas, where he worked under Paul Liebrandt, who was the youngest chef in New York City to receive three stars by The New York Times. Seningen then moved on to Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal restaurant. At 26, he worked as a private chef in the Hamptons before traveling to Spain, France and England, delving deeper into his culinary roots. Upon returning to the U.S., Seningen briefly staged at Chanterelle in New York City, before moving to D.C., where he spent a year and a half at Le Paradou under Chef Yannick Cam.
Location: 734 11th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 6:00 pm – 1:00 am; Friday: 6:00 pm – 2:00 am; Saturday: 7:00 pm – 2:00 am; Sunday: 8:00 pm – 1:00 am