H Street NE newcomer Irregardless just dropped its original identity as an $85-per-person seasonal tasting room and goes all a la carte starting this weekend. Leading the menu makeover is newly named executive chef Laetitia Chrapchynski, who replaces Mintwood Place alum Ben Browning at the bistro that debuted in September in a two-story rowhome (502 H Street NE).
Chrapchynski moved from her native Calgary to D.C. in 2021 to be the head chef at the prominent Canadian Embassy off Pennsylvania Avenue NW and just left the post last week to take the new job. Irregardless reopens on Friday, March 24 after a week-long closure to implement the retooled menu and chef change, says co-owner Mika Carlin, noting Browning’s departure was “amicable.”
Irregardless predominantly opened as a prix-fixe place to try six American courses in one sitting, plus individual dishes offered at the bar, and now the whole 51-seat restaurant is going the a la carte route. Ambitious tasting-only models can be tough to monetize, as seen in Newland’s brief lifespan on Capitol Hill last year.
“The idea is to make it more approachable,” Carlin tells Eater. “Tasting menus are nice but sometimes it shuts off pieces of the market who may want [just] a night cap and croquettes at 10 p.m.”
Chrapchynski did her culinary training in Montreal, where she fell in love with “more off-the-line” bistros and cafes that encourage chatty interaction between chefs and customers. “It’s a nicer way to eat,” she says. A curated chef’s tasting option—similar to what Georgetown’s Lutece offers in tandem to a la carte—will enter the fold in the future.
Irregardless comes from first-time restaurant owners and couple Mika and Ian Carlin, who double as its resident sommeliers. Wine is still very much a focus at Irregardless 2.0, with a continued spotlight on Virginia vineyards along with Old World labels from smaller and independent producers. The menu also maintains a devotion to peak Mid-Atlantic produce, now joined by cuisine influences from Chrapchynski’s French-Canadian and Ukrainian backgrounds.
“Part of my goal is to change the narrative about what Canadian food is. Like here, it’s ever evolving and showcases evolutions of our immigration,” says Chrapchynski.
One new dish under her watch is a bison tartare (“bison is so integral in indigenous Canadian communities,” she notes). She adds a bright-yellow Canadian canola oil as a “stunning and vibrant” alternative to egg yolk traditionally found in tartare.
Her recent stint at the Canadian Embassy shed a light on the importance of its bilateral relationship with the U.S. and “how interconnected supply chains are” between the bordering countries.
Chrapchynski’s able to stay in the states—and take on the new restaurant role—because she was able to secure a special category “O” visa designated for individuals with “Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.” The tricky government process was streamlined with help from her new boss Mika Carlin, who happens to be a former immigration attorney before getting into restaurants.