The Shaw Bijou, chef Kwame Onwuachi's high-end tasting menu-centric restaurant in Shaw, has only been open since Tuesday night. That didn't stop Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema from filling a First Bite review by Friday morning — and it's hardly a rave.
Despite paying close to $2,000 for a dinner for four, the critic and his dining companions leave the meal still hungry. "Dinner at the Shaw Bijou feels more like extended hors d'oeuvres," Sietsema writes.
As my party stands outside one of the most highly anticipated restaurants of the season, currently all but obscured by construction fencing, I take a vote to see how many would return on their own dime. Head shakes all around confirm my hunch. We’re also of one mind when it comes to our mood: Pizza, anyone? [WaPo]
Being hungry isn't the only issue the critic finds with the place. He's a fan of the wine pairings, as well as a play on steak and eggs and a sweet crab dish. But other menu items are problematic, whether it be a too-salty seared foie gras or a dehydrated sunchokes offering (though he admits he doesn't enjoy the vegetable in general). Desserts are unremarkable; he calls them, "the weakest link in the chain."
It's clear he has issues with the general vibe of the restaurant as well, from the price ticket given the chef's unproven track record to the fact diners can't see a menu before investing major dollars. But he likes the bar, and notes, "No question: Onwuachi lavishes lots of thought, and ingredients, on his dishes."
The critic has been filing his First Bite previews earlier and earlier lately; he came out of the gate quickly with write-ups for such hot restaurants as Hazel (a full review) and Pineapple & Pearls (a first bite) as well. The anticipation surrounding The Shaw Bijou has been intense (though the price tag has also drawn criticism), so the early file is less surprising given that context.
Find the rest of this week's major restaurant reviews here.