First-time restaurateur David Deshaies’ highly anticipated Unconventional Diner debuted last month inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, delivering modern twists on traditional comfort foods.
The 8,000-square-foot, Southern California-inspired oasis (1207 Ninth Street NW) features two huge kitchens, a quick-service counter and cafe, and spacious dining room with a 25-seat bar.
Mid-century accents include custom bar stools, chairs, and tables from local furniture makers alongside palm trees and sea foam green and peach-colored booths. The 55-seat cafe portion, which remains a work in progress, is projected to operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. once finished.
Read on to hear what the public is saying, just a few weeks in:
The Welcome Aboard News: Facebook user Lou Cardenas hails the “great food, great people and very cool art. Awesome addition to the DC dining scene!” Yelper Tom B. says, “We’re so happy that this place opened in our neighborhood and we’ll definitely be regulars here!” Facebook user Manny Carreras says it’s “beautiful and cozy. Excellent food. Must go again.” [Facebook, Yelp]
The Design DL News: Yelper Andrew P. says the layout is “totally fresh and open. Sophisticated but understated. Works for a modern diner.” Yelper Austin G. says, “From the wall paper to the paintings, it is more design forward than your typical diner. It’s a simple, beautiful space.” [Yelp]
The Innovation News: Yelper Janett S. notes the “nice quality fresh cooked comfort food, very unconventional creative combinations. Sharp contemporary twist to traditional meatloaf, potpie cubes, kale nachos, an upgraded hummus platter, nice wine selection.” And Instagrammer @markinnwdc writes that “everything tastes better unconventional ... DELICIOUS from the bites, to the shareables, to the entrees...going back!” [Yelp, Instagram]
The Must-Try News: Yelper Elizabeth H. rattles off her early favorites. ”The PB&J Foie Gras, Avocado Toast and Salmon Lox is utterly incredible. There’s a twist to all of these and this is the second time I’ve come in 4 days,” she writes. Yelper Robert G. is equally impressed. ”Between the kale nachos, Brussel sprouts, and extensive bar menu this will probably be one of our new favorites in the South Shaw,” he says. [Yelp]
The Price Point News: Yelper Austin G. warns that the food is not cheap. “My burger with an egg and fries cost $18 before tip and taxes. That’s unconventional,” he writes. Washington City Paper food editor Laura Hayes bills the pricing as “dubious” yet “more than fair.” “So much attention to detail,” she writes, adding “you could make a whole meal out of little finger foods and their dippers.” [Yelp, Instagram]
The Sweet Endings News: Yelper Kathia W. sums up the desserts in a single word: “fantastic.” Instagrammer @deblindsey captioned her pic of a slice of tres leches cake with passion fruit filling with two more: “Oh my.” Yelper Manny C., who says his wife is not typically interested in cake, reports that she “loves” the chocolate version at Uncoventional Diner. “My fave [was] carrot cake.” he chimes in. [Yelp, Instagram]