To offer his customers only the best, Nguyen shops at local farms such as Nunn Better, Dwelley and Smith’s, tracking down seasonal fruits and vegetables to incorporate into his menu. He proudly displays the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” banner at the back of his restaurant, a visible testament to his commitment.
“That’s what I love about this area: the homegrown goods,” Nguyen said. “That’s how I determine my menu. I go around to the different produce stands and I gather up what’s in season. I’m supporting our local farmers and showcasing these natural, healthy ingredients in a variety of ways, from making a glaze for a pork chop to finding a new combination for a soup. There is always something new to try, and it all comes from right here in East County. This is a very special area.”
Nguyen, who opened Scottie’s Shutters Brassiere three years ago, describes himself as a culinary artist. Using ingredients grown here in the East County, Nguyen makes a dinner plate his canvas as he adds a little of this, a pinch of that and just a sprinkle of something extra to give his cuisine some kick. His dishes reflect a French influence with Asian undertones, but he refers to his menu as “innovative California cuisine,” featuring treatments of locally grown produce that customers won’t find at other restaurants.
It’s Nguyen’s creative spirit and attraction to experimentation that keeps his regulars coming back each week to see what he’s dreamed up. The menu offers several mainstays, of course, but Nguyen likes to switch up the side dishes based on what’s available at local farms. He tests out new main courses as specials to see if something will make the next season’s menu. He thinks of his customers as friends whom he’s entertaining and values their input when constructing a new menu.
“I think of this restaurant as my home, and my customers are guests in my home, so I want to do whatever I can to make them happy,” Nguyen said. “I taste-test everything before it leaves the kitchen. But just because it tastes right to me doesn’t mean that’s how everyone is going to like it.
“If you don’t like it, you need to tell me. I don’t expect you to pay for something you don’t enjoy. I want to make sure I get it right so you’ll come back again and again, so if you weren’t happy and want to try something else, just say so. It won’t hurt my feelings. It will hurt my feelings if you say you liked it and never come back again. I want to you have a good time so you’ll come back again.”
Once customers find Scottie’s, hidden quietly away at the edge of Brentwood along the Oakley border, they’re often surprised to find that Nguyen has been here for years. But the owner said he enjoys his location’s mystery factor. Rather than operating in the heart of downtown Brentwood, Scottie’s is like the “X” on a treasure map. Follow the clues and you’ll find a wealth of culinary pleasures to arouse your taste buds, such as the pan-roasted pork chop encrusted with peanut tasso and served with a fig compote, mashed potatoes and sautéed baby spinach, or the chicken cordon blue, the confit of duck and the Idaho boneless trout.
Scottie’s Shutters Brassiere, located at 2013 Elkins Way in Brentwood, is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and for dinner Monday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended. For more information, visit www. www.shuttersbrasserie.com or call 925-516-4131.