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The Shaw Bijou - Chef Kwame Onwuachi and GM Greg Vakiner's $95 Seven-Course Menu in Shaw - Closed


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I'm still not caught up on Top Chef but I just watched the third episode and was so impressed by DC's Kwame Onwuachi, that I had to look him up to see where he was cooking. Turns out, his new place, The Shaw Bijou, is scheduled to open later this Winter.

He's put up some great dishes so far, and won one of the elimination challenges but what impressed me the most was his attitude. For a 25 year old he seems wise beyond his years, very thoughtful and mature and a really great guy. He's almost got a Buddha like quality about him......I'm not totally sure what I mean by that(!) but he just seems super grounded and very together.

On the show I just watched the chefs were paired into teams of two who would compete against the other teams, but there was a twist.  Halfway through the competition, they changed it so now each chef was competing against his/her former partner. From teammates to competitors, just like that! Naturally, you'd expect no help from your former partner since it's a now head to head competition and if you lose, you could be eliminated from the show. But Kwame somehow had some extra time and was able to help his former partner and current competitor cut up his meat and cook his food! Usually in these competitions each chef is using every last second just to get the meal on the plate, but this guy was taking his own precious time to help the one guy he had to beat!! During the interview about it, he was so casual and matter of fact about it, it touched me and I had to look him up!  Despite helping his competitor, he ended up winning the entire competition!  Classy and talented.

Here's an article from the Post from July about him and the new place:

07/15/15 - "The Shaw Bijou, from Rising New York Chef Kwame Onwuachi, is Coming to a 9th Street Rowhouse" by Becky Krystal on washingtonpost.com
 
Here's an excerpt:

"Next up: 25-year-old Kwame Onwuachi, whose résumé includes stints at such cachet-carrying eateries as New York's Eleven Madison Park and Per Se. Onwuachi expects to open the Shaw Bijou later this year."

Wowzers!

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Suna was amazing.

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More on Kwame:

"Chef Kwame's Ready To Show D.C. A Fine-Dining Experience Unlike Any Other" by Tim Caarman on washingtonpost.com

An excerpt from the article:

The 28-seat restaurant will take diners on a journey. Literally. They will move from one space to another, consuming a cocktail and snack in one spot, a few dishes in another, and so on. Every one of the expected 17 courses will be served on plateware custom-made for that dish, in a setting with custom furniture and lighting.

Diners will buy tickets beforehand. It will probably cost them more than $150 each, not including prepaid service fees. Diners will not be shown a menu, but instead will be asked to trust that Onwuachi and his team will prepare them something delicious (after checking for allergies and other dietary restrictions). The food will not be, like some high-priced tasting menus, a paean to jaw-dropping innovation or technique.

Expect ingredients that have defined fine dining for decades: caviar, foie gras, lobster, dry-aged beef. Don't expect all of it to come from local producers. Neither Onwuachi nor Vakiner subscribes to what they view as the unsustainable farm-to-table movement.

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That is an absolutely absurd price point to start off, especially when you are promising diners that they will NOT experience "jaw-dropping innovation or technique" in the cooking. Kwame's not wasting any time in trying to cash in on the Top Chef fame!

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Expect ingredients that have defined fine dining for decades: caviar, foie gras, lobster, dry-aged beef. Don't expect all of it to come from local producers. Neither Onwuachi nor Vakiner subscribes to what they view as the unsustainable farm-to-table movement.

Frozen waffles for all! I would love to hear what makes buying local food from local purveyors unsustainable.

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They will move from one space to another, consuming a cocktail and snack in one spot, a few dishes in another, and so on.

Call me lazy, but I have little to no interest in switching seats multiple times during my meal.

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That is an absolutely absurd price point to start off, especially when you are promising diners that they will NOT experience "jaw-dropping innovation or technique" in the cooking. Kwame's not wasting any time in trying to cash in on the Top Chef fame!

It will be interesting to see how this fixed price fine dining joint compares pricewise to Metier and Pineapple and Pearls, both of which I believe are fixed price and fine dinning.

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It will be interesting to see how this fixed price fine dining joint compares pricewise to Metier and Pineapple and Pearls, both of which I believe are fixed price and fine dinning.

The difference being that both of those restaurants have award-winning chefs who are well established not only in DC, but nationally as well.  Kwame seems like a talented guy, but if I'm not mistaken, he has under a decade of experience and this is his first Executive Chef gig.  I don't think you can compare The Shaw Bijou, from a pure marketing perspective, to those other two.

Another question would be is if alcohol is inclusive of that $150 price tag.  If not (which is what I'm assuming), you're talking about potentially $200+ per person before tax and tip if you want to enjoy a bottle of wine.  Is there another restaurant in DC that is that expensive for table stakes?  Sushi Taro sushi counter?  Is Komi that much with wine pairing?

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DPop - all good points. I didn't really think that much about the price (as being high or low or anything) when I read the article, and I didn't consider alcohol in the bill either, so you calling it "absurd" may be right on the money. (Pun??)

Kwame seems like a talented guy, but if I'm not mistaken, he has under a decade of experience and this is his first Executive Chef gig.

We he got the boot from Top Chef, he thanked all the judges for the opportunity and then had a special thanks to Tom saying something like, "Four years ago I was a waiter at your restraint, Craft, and......" 

Four years ago he was a waiter!!!!

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His food sounded wonderful, and I'm quite interested in trying it, but not at that price point when it's a fixed menu (and you don't know the menu).

It's going to be something like 15 to 20 small courses, so it may not end up being overvalued, if people end up loving it.  But as someone predisposed to want to try his food from watching him, I'm not at all inclined to go, unfortunately. (Though I may be an outlier, since I have not been going to fixed-menu restaurants at all - I like to have some choice in what I order.)

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"His food sounded wonderful, and I'm quite interested in trying it, but not at that price point when it's a fixed menu (and you don't know the menu)." exactly.  And the emphasis on foie, etc baffles me a bit--i was a big fan on top chef, but what seemed great on the show were his sauces and spicing, and i would think those would overwhelm things like lobster and foie (but as i don't eat either i don't actually know this). 

 

I wish him luck, he seems a great talent and i am really hoping this concept doesn't end up hurting him.

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This sounds to me to be very Rogue 24-esque except without the molecular gastronomy. 

Also the points about pricing you all brought up, I  completely agree with: could see this to be 250 a person including drinks. For perspective's sake you can get a 2 or 3 Michelin Starred meal in San Francisco for that price. A high bar indeed.

Wish Kwame the best of luck and look forward to seeing how things materialize. 

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That is bananas.  We're going to Barcelona in April and trying to narrow down which of the many, many Michelin-starred (or similar caliber) tasting menus we will be booking; there are plenty of options that are half what Shaw Bijou will be charging, or cheaper (and no "prepaid service fees"!).

D.C. is its own planet.

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That is bananas.  We're going to Barcelona in April and trying to narrow down which of the many, many Michelin-starred (or similar caliber) tasting menus we will be booking; there are plenty of options that are half what Shaw Bijou will be charging, or cheaper (and no "prepaid service fees"!).

D.C. is its own planet.

Gadarene, I'm looking at Barcelona next month too - any chance you would post in the Intrepid Traveler thread as to the restaurants you're choosing between?

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I'm not a negative guy, and the place hasn't even opened, but I'm so put off by the whole article. I sense a complete lack of respect for what it takes to be excellent. Hubris. His story just seems like a guy who got lucky breaks. I don't wish him bad luck, but man, if this succeeds, it makes me wonder what hard work( toil, and the process matter ...

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Does anyone know Kwame, his GM, or his investors? I am coming from the position of someone who really liked Kwame and wants him to succeed (so i can eat his food!) and i'm getting a bit worried by all of these comments, and the ones on the wapo article. Many of the members of the DR community seem to eat at fine dining establishments more than most of the people i know, and spend more money on dining out, yet not a single comment above was even ok with the pricing. only one of the 13 wapo comments seemed ok with the price. if i were kwame, this would worry me, as if even the people on DR, who have demonstrated a willingness to pay well for excellent food, think you are very overpriced, he may have a real problem. maybe this is naive of me to ask, but do you think Kwame or his team know what people are saying? he's on the post chat today too, i'm wondering if anyone will mention it to him....

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Does anyone know Kwame, his GM, or his investors? I am coming from the position of someone who really liked Kwame and wants him to succeed (so i can eat his food!) and i'm getting a bit worried by all of these comments, and the ones on the wapo article.

Same here! I only "know" him from Top Chef and I really like him, but I'm worried too because the comments have almost all universally negative. Here, the Post, Tim Carman's twitter. All negative. Yikes.

The opening coinciding with Kwame's appearance on Top Chef smacks, the ticket system, and prix fixe all seems PR driven to me.

There was an interesting scene earlier in the Top Chef season where they show Kwame talking on the phone to his business partner saying that all the chefs on the show have a PR person and that they need to get one too. And pronto! Of course that clip could have been part of the PR Bait and Switch Master Plan!

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Yeah, I want to be clear as well: I'm a big fan of Kwame's from Top Chef and from Dinner Lab, and I was really looking forward to Shaw Bijou opening.  But that's an absurd amount of money to charge relative to his experience level -- even without considering prepaid service fees, beverages, tax, and tip, to the extent those are distinct -- particularly when it seems to be a point of pride that the food will not be "a paean to jaw-dropping innovation or technique" (I recognize that's a quote from the article, but they got it from somewhere).  For $150+ per person, a little jaw-dropping innovation or technique would be kinda nice.

I'm also more than a little skeptical about the disclaimer re locally-sourced food.  Not everything needs to be "farm-to-table" (which isn't a particularly meaningful term anyway), and certainly there is nothing wrong with sourcing your ingredients from somewhere else -- I don't complain about Sushi Taro airlifting in fish from Tsukiji, or Dean getting his baby artichokes from the Santa Monica farmer's market.  But to the extent that "don't expect all of it to come from local producers" translates to "don't expect a focus on fresh ingredients and seasonality," I have a huge problem.  More and more I've come to believe that seasonality should be a foundation of thoughtful modern cuisine.  Without innovation, technique, and seasonality, what are we paying for?  Caviar and a somewhat recognizable face?  Come on.

(The idea of moving diners from place to place during their meal is surpassingly silly as well, but I can't imagine that they stick with that for long.)

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At that price point, you need a lot of good publicity to attract diners.  Hence I believe they'll be giving out loads of freebies to the bloggers, yelpers, etc. in order to generate publicity.  Had Kwame won or made it to the finale of Top Chef, I can see that by itself drawing diners to the restaurant even at his price point.  However, he didn't even make the top 5, and someone else from DC did, so all the demand for Top Chef experience will likely flow first to Marjorie before Kwame.

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(The idea of moving diners from place to place during their meal is surpassingly silly as well, but I can't imagine that they stick with that for long.) 

That seems like an idea he cribbed from Alinea. I know Grant Achatz has talked about doing that -- and his restaurant is under renovation now, so I would assume something like this is incorporated. But Achatz is a genius and can do what he wants. Kwame doesn't have the leeway.

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At that price point, you need a lot of good publicity to attract diners.  Hence I believe they'll be giving out loads of freebies to the bloggers, yelpers, etc. in order to generate publicity.  Had Kwame won or made it to the finale of Top Chef, I can see that by itself drawing diners to the restaurant even at his price point.  However, he didn't even make the Top 5, and someone else from DC did, so all the demand for Top Chef experience will likely flow first to Marjorie before Kwame.

And interestingly, Marjie's first venture where she's the owner is a pastrami shop. A much different thing than what Kwame's going for.

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Never underestimate what PR and being on Top Chef can do for a guy. Something tells me he isn't trying to attract people who are savvy;on DR; or are scouring far away strip malls for the best cheap eats. More likely going for the folks who are excited to eat the food of a pseudo celebrity chef with a "good story."

But honestly, at this point in my life I'm not willing pay $150 per person (and upwards of $500 a couple) to eat the food of Frank Ruta: chef with a wealth of experience, technique and a pretty amazing cannon of delicious dishes filled with nuance and depth.

I wish Kwame the best of luck, but this is an extremely bold move for any chef striking out on their own for the first time, let alone such a young one with so little experience.

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Never underestimate what PR and being on Top Chef can do for a guy.

This is season 13 of the show (is it still drawing a large audience of viewers?). The DC market has restaurants by at least 6 contestants (Mike Isabella, his partner George, his other partner Jennifer Carroll from Philly, Spike, Voltaggio, and Marjorie). I'm not sure what a 6th place chef would draw in this market. Kwame seems like a nice guy but his strong point seems to be southeast Asian cuisine, which Little Serow sells at less than $50 per person, not $150 per person.

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Acknowledging I am not the target audience for a restaurant such as this- I predict 6 months tops of this set up before a "casual, a la carte" menu is introduced, perhaps lunch only at the start. No matter how good the food is, no one here thinks that is a sustainable business model for DC. Hopefully his food can back up the PR, but even if it rivals the best in the city- that is quite a price point. I think the moving around per course lasts about a month. Besides the annoyance factor, how do you keep everyone moving at the same speed- with resets etc.

I am a fan of Kwame from the show, I hope his restaurant finds a realistic operative model.

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This is season 13 of the show (is it still drawing a large audience of viewers?). The DC market has restaurants by at least 6 contestants (Mike Isabella, his partner George, his other partner Jennifer Carroll from Philly, Spike, Voltaggio, and Marjorie). I'm not sure what a 6th place chef would draw in this market. Kwame seems like a nice guy but his strong point seems to be southeast Asian cuisine, which Little Serow sells at less than $50 per person, not $150 per person.

Seems to me George, Mike, Marjorie, Spike and Voltaggio (along with Carla Hall) are all doing pretty well for themselves.

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I'm also more than a little skeptical about the disclaimer re locally-sourced food.  Not everything needs to be "farm-to-table" (which isn't a particularly meaningful term anyway), and certainly there is nothing wrong with sourcing your ingredients from somewhere else -- I don't complain about Sushi Taro airlifting in fish from Tsukiji, or Dean getting his baby artichokes from the Santa Monica farmer's market.  But to the extent that "don't expect all of it to come from local producers" translates to "don't expect a focus on fresh ingredients and seasonality," I have a huge problem.  More and more I've come to believe that seasonality should be a foundation of thoughtful modern cuisine.  Without innovation, technique, and seasonality, what are we paying for?  Caviar and a somewhat recognizable face?  Come on.

Not sure if you read the article or just the part I cut and pasted. If you only read the part I cut and pasted, the next paragraph may make you a little crazy. I know it did for me! Here's what the business partner said after the line "unsustainable farm to table movement":

<< "I can get [ingredients] in less than 24 hours and be able to showcase the best product that I can possibly get," says Vakiner. "So it's still the idea of farm-to-table, but it's not necessarily local farm-to-table."

Onwuachi and Vakiner's concept departs dramatically from current dining trends that emphasize casual settings, mid-priced meals and local sourcing. It also will require a steep learning curve.  >>

I always thought part of the appeal of local and farm to table was the environmental impact and the carbon footprint involved in getting things delivered from all over the world. Fresh ingredients and seasonality are probably more important, but if you're in tune enough to be concerned fresh, local and seasonal, it might bother you a bit to know the 3 blackberries on your dessert were flown in from Chile so you could enjoy them "fresh" in January.

That was my first thought when I read that line.

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it's an approach similar to what I've read about Thomas Keller. The French Laundry (and his other Yountville) restaurants make the most of local/seasonal (and have the great TFL garden), but he's not above flying in the best ingredients from around the world to make the best food possible.

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Count me as one who will not be gracing the doors of that restaurant. I'm sure he has a wonderful story and is a talented cook. But this is not what I am seeking in a dining experience from an inexperienced chef.

What part of Chef Kwame being named a "rock star redefining the industry" by Zagat DC for its inaugural "30 under 30" list in 2015 did you gloss over?  ESPN is probably spit balling a 30-for-30 documentary befitting his mercurial rise through kitchen puberty. You're just a jealous fuddy-duddy well into a twangy Traveling Wilburys kind of rock star decline.

Sure, he has never run or overseen a restaurant or worked in one for longer than a year but this boy band duo was able to get investors with very deep coffers.  He will do just fine.

Washington Post: "Onwuachi and Vakiner's concept departs dramatically from current dining trends... It also will require a steep learning curve."

Fantastic.  I've become so drained from the stuffy boredom and indignity of current fine dining doldrums now that I have just about aced the predictable mouth-breathing paradigm of pointing at food words, mashing food into my face hole and paying for it.  I'll bring my slide rule and take notes (if the lighting permits).

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How about we wait until the f'in restaurant actually opens, so we can either bask in the glory of its genius or smugly gloat at a Great-Oz-behind-the-curtains farce?

As a group these are self-promoting chefs who applied to be on a reality TV show so that they could self-promote.  Is anybody surprised that any semblance of substance is veiled in a thick layer of style?  It's obvious that some of them have the chops and others don't, but nobody is there because they have to be.  These are conscious career choices, and if I were them I'd milk it for all it's worth.  Whether you respect these choices or not is beyond the point.

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How about we wait until the f'in restaurant actually opens, so we can either bask in the glory of its genius or smugly gloat at a Great-Oz-behind-the-curtains farce?

As a group these are self-promoting chefs who applied to be on a reality TV show so that they could self-promote.  Is anybody surprised that any semblance of substance is veiled in a thick layer of style?  It's obvious that some of them have the chops and others don't, but nobody is there because they have to be.  These are conscious career choices, and if I were them I'd milk it for all it's worth.  Whether you respect these choices or not is beyond the point.

Ted, I realize it was my (now deleted) post that prompted yours, but are you really going to go to this restaurant?

I am not.

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Ted, I realize it was my (now deleted) post that prompted yours, but are you really going to go to this restaurant?

I am not.

First, you shouldn't have deleted your post because it was appropriate, and right on the money. Actually it wasn't harsh enough!

Second, why would you write off this place before it even opens?  What if it's the next Komi, or Rose's or Kinship?  What if the reviews say the price could be doubled and it'd still be worth it?  There are a lot of good points made in this thread and some not so good, but this guy seems like he can really cook. He was very well respected by the other chefs and the judges on the show. And lets not forget, it is a show. Just because a chef bombs out and can't come up with a perfectly planned and executed restaurant in an afternoon, doesn't mean he can't blow you away with a well planned menu that was built and tested over the course of months.

Third, despite Poivrot Farci's seemingly bitterness over press and publicity, you know who would be great on Top Chef and vice versa?  Ferhat Yalcin.  He's got a personally made for TV.  He's charming and hilarious, knowledgeable and interesting.  Most of my memories of my meal at Fishnook are about the interaction and conversation with Ferhat.   He'd quickly become a fan favorite and people would flock to his places.  But then we'd have to hate him so maybe it's not such a great idea.

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Ted, I realize it was my (now deleted) post that prompted yours, but are you really going to go to this restaurant?

I am not.

I'm not going either, but at this point only because high-priced tasting menus are not on my radar right now (I haven't been to Rose's Luxury, for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the food being produced there).  If I were in the demographic they are targeting I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand before any patrons have even darkened its doors.  We can discuss the (de)merits of prepaid dining tickets, the nebulous definitions of the "concept", the prospects of a young chef who has not paid his dues, etc, but the sniping is tiresome and just the kind of thing I thought this board was supposed to be above.

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Second, why would you write off this place before it even opens?  What if it's the next Komi, or Rose's or Kinship?  What if the reviews say the price could be doubled and it'd still be worth it? 

I'm not writing anything off; I said I'm not going, certainly not until I hear a reason to go, and I haven't heard one.

I went to Komi in the first two weeks that it was open (in fact, I was the one who took Todd Kliman there on his very first visit). I was *the* first person to say Rose's opening had a lot of potential. I've been to Kinship five times this year. I am very comfortable with my ability to determine probabilities, and if I'm somehow mistaken, what's the downside? I suffer through a few more meals at Kinship before people I trust convince me into going to Shaw Bijou? Tough life I lead.

What do you mean by "the reviews?" The reviews from *whom*, exactly?

 

you know who would be great on Top Chef and vice versa?  Ferhat Yalcin.  He's got a personally made for TV.  He's charming and hilarious, knowledgeable and interesting.  Most of my memories of my meal at Fishnook are about the interaction and conversation with Ferhat.   He'd quickly become a fan favorite and people would flock to his places. 

I completely agree with this quoted text.

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Well, I took your "I am not" answer to the "are you planning on going?" question as writing it off.  I don't think that's an unreasonable conclusion to draw.

When I wrote that line about "the reviews", I guess I was thinking about the big publications, The Post, Washingtonian, national magazines, etc, but it goes equally for this site.

And regarding Kinship, until you post a review, I'm not giving you credit for visiting even once!  <wink>

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I think this is a very valid discussion, not snipping at a place before it even opens.

If you hire PR and promote a place for months (or even years) before the stoves are turned on, and then come out of the gate with a $150 per person tasting menu, you should expect a certain type of lively discussion and realize that it might not be for everyone. While we live in an affluent area and I'm sure most of us here COULD afford a meal there...I am choosing not to go (and I could imagine quite a few others will not go as well).

Let's not forget, Komi was an ala carte restaurant for years before it became the Komi it is today. He progressed to the point he is at now, and I respect him all the more for his growth and trajectory. Kwame could be a rare exception, but until I hear credible people telling me I am missing the meal of a lifetime, spending that kind of change on food is not my cup of tea, or soup or whatever you choose your metaphor to be, 

You're just a jealous fuddy-duddy well into a twangy Traveling Wilburys kind of rock star decline.

Touche...But Tom Petty still rocks.

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How about we wait until the f'in restaurant actually opens, so we can either bask in the glory of its genius or smugly gloat at a Great-Oz-behind-the-curtains farce?

I strongly disagree. People should be able to discuss whatever they feel like that's on topic. I certainly don't owe Kwame or anyone else the obligation to refrain from discussing his new venture.

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I strongly disagree. People should be able to discuss whatever they feel like that's on topic. I certainly don't owe Kwame or anyone else the obligation to refrain from discussing his new venture.

Nobody is saying not to discuss whatever they feel is on topic, talk about whatever the hell you want.  My point is (and I've been playing the curmudgeonly devil's advocate here), why don't we talk about things that are unique to this offering?  Here are topics that have been discussed extensively, if not ad nauseam, on this site:

- Celebrity chefs riding out their TV fame

- Tasting menu price points and value thereof

- Pre-paid ticketed seatings

You know what hasn't been offered up?:

- People who have tasted the chef's food

- People who have worked in a kitchen with the chef

- People who can vouch for any of the principals involved

My gut feeling is that there is only a small chance that this will live up to it's self-described billing, but my opinion means a lot less than anybody who can chime in on that second list of items.  Everything else just seems like the cool kids' table poking fun at the awkward newcomer in the corner.

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[Just a reminder: Comments and opinions about a topic are fine. Diverse comments and opinions about a topic are fine. Repetitive comments and opinions about a topic are fine. *Comments about comments* are (generally) not fine, unless they're seeking clarification - it should not be your burden to police the website; just enjoy it, and let me do the moderating - any topic or individual that bothers you can be ignored (including me). If you think something is out of line, report the post, and I will deal with it. Or, write me privately if you wish - although I still have a queue of unread PMs dating back to God-knows-when, I reply to each-and-every message sent to me (and I'm going to get to those unread ones at some point when I find a moment to breathe). Read the bottom of the home page - item number 4 - if you've forgotten any of this, and please understand how disruptive these types of comments are to a discussion: this entire thread has been needlessly derailed, and I'm reluctantly going to have to delete any further meta-posts. I'm not writing this to be a power-hungry snot; it's merely because this is the way things must be in order to maintain flow and civility. Cheers, carry on, and *enjoy the website*! Rocks.]

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i'll bump this thread while Shaw Bijou remains stuck in permit hell.... his PR campaign is in full swing. he's writing a book, he was on CBS this morning, all sorts of other stuff.

he hired gisell paula from NoMad as pastry chef:

"Kwame Onwuachi's Shaw Bijou is One Step Closer to Opening" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com

he did a thing in March called the "Philly Wing Fry", where he and Chef Vakiner served "100-day dry-aged wagyu beef cheesesteaks with roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onions, pickled pearl onions, and smoke provolone; tamarind-glazed confit wings with crispy garlic and chives; and waffle fries" at $15. there was a huge line, including me and my wife, who waited outside in the cold for a totally reasonable amount of time (so i told her....) a can of wine later and a bit of cold survived, it was a really goddamn good cheesesteak and wings. it was stunningly good, in fact. Chef Kwame went through the line saying hi to people, taking pics, etc. i have actually never watched Top Chef (!), so it was cool to meet him, but at the same time, i wasn't there for a selfie. i was there because my favorite server at my favorite restaurant in the world (Eleven Madison Park) told me that the Shaw Bijou was going to be my new home when she heard i was moving to DC. (turns out that Chef Vakiner was in the kitchen at EMP the night i proposed to my wife at the chef's table sort of thing in the kitchen.)

i'm excited. he's got the experience from EMP, he's got the people, and he's got the funding. will it fail? maybe, it's a restaurant after all. but if anyone is going to make this succeed, he's at the top of the list. i'll be there night 1 if i can. sorry @DonRocks ;)

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On 8/11/2016 at 10:04 PM, franch said:

he did a thing in March called the "Philly Wing Fry", where he and Chef Vakiner served "100-day dry-aged wagyu beef cheesesteaks with roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onions, pickled pearl onions, and smoke provolone; tamarind-glazed confit wings with crispy garlic and chives; and waffle fries" at $15. there was a huge line, including me and my wife, who waited outside in the cold for a totally reasonable amount of time (so i told her....)

I was also present at the Philly Wing Fry. I arrived about 45 minutes early (umbrella in hand) just to make sure I was not at the back of the line. My friends and I were all pleased with his cheesesteak interpretation and are looking forward to the opening of Shaw Bijou. I read on one of DC's food blogs (I'm sorry, can't remember which one) that he may at some point turn the Philly Wing Fry into a fast casual concept.

This is a story I've been following since it was first announced in April of last year. At that time all that was available was a video of a faceless chef cooking and plating a steak. This was well before his appearance on Top Chef. I was skeptical that a tasting menu restaurant from an unknown could succeed in DC. But seeing the success of Pineapple and Pearls and Metier, not to mention the fame he's garnered from his Top Chef appearance, I think he can do well. And if the reviews that follow are positive, then this could possibly become a destination restaurant.

I've read some express concerns about his age and experience. He just turned 26. But that was the age Grant Achatz was when he took over the kitchen at Trio, and we see how things turned out for him. Of course, by that time Achatz had been sous chef at French Laundry for over a year, which brings us to the experience aspect. Onwuachi has never run a professional kitchen. He's been chef de partie at EMP (and I believe Per Se as well), which involves some kind of management. But I'm sure it's a lot different from being sous chef. Still, he ran his own catering business from a young age to pay his way through culinary school, so I'm confident he is not lacking in the management department.

The more information that is revealed about The Shaw Bijou, the more excited I become. After adding a pastry chef from the Made Nice restaurant group, this might become DC's answer to EMP. I've dined at the restaurants of other EMP alum, and it's always been a memorable experience. I'm expecting the same here.

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19 hours ago, CapitalGourmand said:

I was also present at the Philly Wing Fry. I arrived about 45 minutes early (umbrella in hand) just to make sure I was not at the back of the line. My friends and I were all pleased with his cheesesteak interpretation and are looking forward to the opening of Shaw Bijou. I read on one of DC's food blogs (I'm sorry, can't remember which one) that he may at some point turn the Philly Wing Fry into a fast casual concept.

This is a story I've been following since it was first announced in April of last year. At that time all that was available was a video of a faceless chef cooking and plating a steak. This was well before his appearance on Top Chef. I was skeptical that a tasting menu restaurant from an unknown could succeed in DC. But seeing the success of Pineapple and Pearls and Metier, not to mention the fame he's garnered from his Top Chef appearance, I think he can do well. And if the reviews that follow are positive, then this could possibly become a destination restaurant.

I've read some express concerns about his age and experience. He just turned 26. But that was the age Grant Achatz was when he took over the kitchen at Trio, and we see how things turned out for him. Of course, by that time Achatz had been sous chef at French Laundry for over a year, which brings us to the experience aspect. Onwuachi has never run a professional kitchen. He's been chef de partie at EMP (and I believe Per Se as well), which involves some kind of management. But I'm sure it's a lot different from being sous chef. Still, he ran his own catering business from a young age to pay his way through culinary school, so I'm confident he is not lacking in the management department.

The more information that is revealed about The Shaw Bijou, the more excited I become. After adding a pastry chef from the Made Nice restaurant group, this might become DC's answer to EMP. I've dined at the restaurants of other EMP alum, and it's always been a memorable experience. I'm expecting the same here.

the day I can eat that philly cheese steak for $15 any day I want is the day I am morbidly obese and broke.

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2 hours ago, CapitalGourmand said:

Tickets go on sale Monday for $185 (not including tax, gratuity, or drinks). Comparing that to the cost of tasting menus around the country (and the city), I think it's a fair price for 13 courses.

Washington Post Going Out Guide: Dinner at Kwame Onwuachi’s Shaw Bijou will cost $185. That’s without drinks.

P&P offers something like 10 courses for $150, tax and tip included.  $185 with tax and tip is $240.  Komi is $150 before tax and tip.  So they're priced above 2 of the best restaurants in the city.  Of course I don't know what they're serving so maybe the extra cost is justifiable.  I guess we will soon find out.

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Can anyone think of a tasting menu in town other than minibar's that is more expensive?  I can't. (Metier's includes tax at $200, making it a few dollars cheaper.)  He's certainly setting expectations high with the pricing.  Can't wait to see the early reviews. 

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5 hours ago, CapitalGourmand said:

Tickets go on sale Monday for $185 (not including tax, gratuity, or drinks). Comparing that to the cost of tasting menus around the country (and the city), I think it's a fair price for 13 courses.

Washington Post Going Out Guide: Dinner at Kwame Onwuachi’s Shaw Bijou will cost $185. That’s without drinks.

Dang!  Back on March 1st (in this thread) the price was $150. 

I was a (Top Chef) fan of Kwame but I'm getting less and less excited for this this place. 

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1 hour ago, Bart said:

Dang!  Back on March 1st (in this thread) the price was $150. 

I was a (Top Chef) fan of Kwame but I'm getting less and less excited for this this place. 

As well you should be - a 26-year-old kid who staged at Eleven Madison Park charging $185 for a tasting menu? Enjoy your dinner, folks, and let me know how it is: I'll be at 2 Amys.

We're in a bubble, my friends.

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