The Shaw Bijou, the tasting menu-centric Shaw restaurant from recent "Top Chef" alumn Kwame Onwuachi, opens its doors today.
The goal of the restaurant is to create a comfortable dinner party atmosphere, according to its team. “At someone’s home you don’t just sit down and eat—you have a drink and conversation have some fun,” said barman Zac Hoffman, who was one of the first employees tapped by Onwuachi two and a half years ago.
The team traveled to antique stores in Northern Pennsylvania and beyond to curate an impressive collection of 2,000 “irreplaceable” vintage glassware, ranging from coasters to cocktail glasses to water pitchers. Acute attention to detail even invades its ice cubes, which are cylinder in shape and take eight days to make. Take a tour of the space here.
The bar is stocked with rare liqueurs like Curaçao from 1935, which “smells like an old church your grandma would take you to,” Hoffman said. It’s 60 proof but “pours out like maple syrup,” he adds. Another spirit on the shelves: Tequila Cabeza. “We don’t have a lot of space so we want every inch to be something cool,” says Hoffman. To get a sense of the restaurant’s luxury leanings, the “rail” vodka is Belvedere.
Diners reserve a meal without knowing the menu ahead of time, and the lineup is currently evolving day-to-day. A recent preview event featured a chicken and lamb dish over rice with lamb sweetbreads. There was also a “Black Clams” dish with caviar, and a play on shrimp chips. Butter garlic crab came with king crab and uni components.
Other dishes will integrate foie gras, wagyu, and quail egg, and there’s an arsenal of 200 spices in the kitchen at the ready. “Every dish tells a story,” said Onwuachi, some of which are inspired from trips taken around the world. Other bites have humble roots—like homemade Butterfingers and Twix—and are an ode to how Onwuachi used to sell candy to pay his way through culinary school.
Eventually, the facade of The Shaw Bijou will have lots more vegetation out front, including a garden. Onwuachi, who’s done a lot of work with nonprofit No Kid Hungry, plans to have kids from the neighboring Seaton Elementary School help tend to the vegetables once a month.
A visit to The Shaw Bijou is an investment, with a $185-per-person tasting menu that does not include drink pairings, service, or tax. Dinner for two, depending on beverage choices, could set many couples back close to $800-$1,000 for a meal there.
The Shaw Bijou, 1544 9th St. NW, website