Jump to content

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


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 307
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

This restaurant and this chef got more PR than most restaurants and most chefs will ever get in their lives. What this place needed was not PR. It needed to serve diners a great meal at a great percei

Here are my thoughts on Suna . Question - How does a 1/2-star chef get hired by José Andrés to become Chef de Cuisine at the Michelin 2-star Minibar? Answer - He doesn't: Suna was a 3-star r

Suna was amazing.

Posted Images

19 minutes ago, Cooter said:

So, what was the lambs head like?  Other than cheek meat, what is there on the head?

We really liked the lamb's head. My friend, Mike, asked for the eye while we were in the kitchen. Kwame said, "Sure", plucked it out with a knife and gave it to him. When we were served the Mojo course, Mike's plate had the second eye on it, which he shared with me (my other two friends weren't interested). I really liked it.

You're right, most of the meat we were served was from the cheek. It was the only time during the meal that Donna (or anyone, for that matter) had any criticism of the portion sizes.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, thistle said:

Sounds lovely, but still outside my price point for dining out. It's great to read about this kind of food, but I'm happy that I can cook at home.

Sure, but CapitalGourmand's review is still very welcome - it has already been established that The Shaw Bijou is out of most people's price range, no matter what they serve. I really appreciate him having written the review here.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

Sure, but CapitalGourmand's review is still very welcome - it has already been established that The Shaw Bijou is out of most people's price range, no matter what they serve. I really appreciate him having written the review here.

That's two fantastically detailed reviews of this restaurant in it's opening month. No other site can claim that.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Cooter said:

So, what was the lambs head like?  Other than cheek meat, what is there on the head?

A much favored portion when I travel overseas to Jordan and the celebrated Mansif is presented with sprigs of parsley shooting out of the mouth of the erstwhile lamb is the brain, with rambunctious cracking of the skull. And the tongue is prized as well. Were they not present in this Shaw Bijou head? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2016 at 8:18 AM, Lisa Fricano said:

A much favored portion when I travel overseas to Jordan and the celebrated Mansif is presented with sprigs of parsley shooting out of the mouth of the erstwhile lamb is the brain, with rambunctious cracking of the skull. And the tongue is prized as well. Were they not present in this Shaw Bijou head? 

Lisa, lamb's brain was not part of the meal. However, we were served small empanadas filled with lamb meat when we did the toast with Kwame. Those may have been filled with tongue.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

according to Kwame's instagram, the bar is now open to the public beginning at 5:30pm, and there will be a la carte bites available. i hope this becomes as great as the Eleven Madison Park bar did -- for when the full tasting menu price was unrealistic (and reservations not easy to come by), some great dinners could be had at the EMP bar.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

I just meant people with money clearly do go on Yelp. Nobody is going to this place, or nobody is reviewing it. I pick the first... 

Looking at 12/23, 12/24, 12/28 and one weekday in January there was room for 4 on all dates, mostly early or late dinners.  Weekends appeared booked.   In general I agree with Simul's comments above; yelp gets reviews from the most expensive restaurants across the land.  But realistically only something like 1 in 5-10 people leave reviews. 

All in all, somewhat spotty evidence for the public at this time; but the folks at Shaw Bijou know exactly what is going on.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

Nobody is going to this place, or nobody is reviewing it. I pick the first... 

I suspect the first as well. There's a large segment of the population that would be all over Yelp bragging to their friends that they went ... if they went. They'd either brag about their glorious experience or revel in shredding the place to pieces.

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, franch said:

DCist is reporting the addition of some more affordable options -- a la carte bar menu service, $115 New Year's Eve lunch, $150 New Year's Eve party:

"Shaw Bijou Rolls Out More Affordable Dining Options" by Travis Mitchell on dcist.com

I think this is all the evidence you need that they are having issues filling seats for The Experience.  I figured they would need to adjust their service model or price point eventually once the novelty wore off, but that was very quick!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

Does anyone know of a restaurant that started off at too high of a price point and recovered by going much lower? I think they are screwed.... 

Rogue 24 tried. I quietly thought that business model was doomed to failure (mainly because of the economy), but I never said anything.

Thing is, we're eventually going to hit a recession, and what then?

2941 didn't go *much* lower, but they went somewhat lower, and they're still chugging right along, but they have some serious money behind them.

Even Restaurant Eve, which was "sneaky expensive," has finally put in some lower-priced items.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Simul Parikh said:

Nasime in Old Town, a tiny Japanese place has 14 reviews. This place has 7.

There is no way a place with this sort of budget and overhead can exist for very long if no one is going. Even mediocre reviews would be good. But 7... Damn. 

Well, Metier which has been open since April only has 33 reviews.  

I'm not disagreeing with anything anyone has hypnotized, but just saying a lack of Yelp reviews doesn't necessarirly mean low quality or a bad experience  

Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Rogue 24 tried. I quietly thought that business model was doomed to failure (mainly because of the economy), but I never said anything.

Thing is, we're eventually going to hit a recession, and what then?

2941 didn't go *much* lower, but they went somewhat lower, and they're still chugging right along, but they have some serious money behind them.

Even Restaurant Eve, which was "sneaky expensive," has finally put in some lower-priced items.

Don't forget how much of 2941's bottom line is buttressed by their wedding / event business.  It's a huge factor in their success.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Oh my god, they axed the price!

2 hours ago, Rextopher said:

Enough of a price drop to bring me in, that's for sure. And doubtless many others.

1 hour ago, Jonathan said:

That was quick. Pretty shocking they couldn't see this coming prior to opening. But hey, at least they learned before the gas got shut off.

Folks, I have lived long enough, and have seen enough things in this world, where I don't think it's impossible that this price-drop was part of a larger business plan they had from day one.

I'm not saying it's necessarily the case, but do you see the enthusiasm up above? People are now *jacked* at paying $95 for a meal here, as if that was some sort of bargain night out.

This could have been (repeat: *could have been*) a backup plan all along (a fallback position if the hyper-expensive strategy failed), or, it could have been the master plan all along - *knowing* it would fail, waiting awhile, and then "giving" the customer a $185 meal at what is essentially half-price.

I'm not saying this was the strategy all along (I have no idea what their strategy was or is); I'm merely saying that it's not impossible. $95 is an expensive meal, and when you throw in drinks, tax, and gratuity? You're looking at three-hundred bucks a couple.

And if their average cover is a buck-twenty-five, and they have a full restaurant on a regular basis? They're going to make a fortune.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Alas, the words of the sober minded can be so incisive... nevertheless, a still-pricey $95 is comparable to several other (established, respected, time-tested) restaurants here that aim to provide the experience to which Chef Kwame seems to be aspiring even if this is part of a cynical "long con," which, as Don has said, may not at all be the case. But I think I may not be quite so eager beaver to be an early adopter of the new menu format with that in mind. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Rextopher said:

Alas, the words of the sober minded can be so incisive... nevertheless, a still-pricey $95 is comparable to several other (established, respected, time-tested) restaurants here that aim to provide the experience to which Chef Kwame seems to be aspiring even if this is part of a cynical "long con," which, as Don has said, may not at all be the case. But I think I may not be quite so eager beaver to be an early adopter of the new menu format with that in mind. 

Seriously, don't read too much into my post - it's supported by absolutely nothing other than a restless mind and a healthy skepticism.

I think the bigger story (and I'm not singling anyone out here) is that we have no meaningful restaurant criticism in this town. People write about openings, closings, chef changes, a really tasty cheeseburger they had last weekend, but ... where's the critical analysis?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

i choose not to think people are quite as sinister and plotting as one would have to be to make this all a part of a long con. I truly believe they were dying on the vine and had to make desperate moves to stay afloat. 

It follows with eschewing the club idea(no, they did not have 1000 names on a waiting list); a more "affordable" lunch option for NYE; and offering a la carts at the bar. All moves made to get more butts in the seats when reservations aren't being booked.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/4/2016 at 0:46 PM, TedE said:

Variety.  The "experience".  Seriously, and I can be a cynical bastard, but I'm more and more convinced that the trend in multi-course tasting menus has become less and less about the food on the plate and more about the "journey" or whatever the term du jour is.  From what I can gather the wandering dinner aspect of Shaw Bijou is unique to DC.  There you go.  If you won't bat an eye at a $300 for two for dinner at P&P, etc., what's $500?  $600?

Perhaps TedE was right. It was just that the buzz wasn't there in the initial (and subsequent) reviews to encourage people with the financial wherewithal to invest and then brag about this particular "journey".

TSchaad

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

i choose not to think people are quite as sinister and plotting as one would have to be to make this all a part of a long con. I truly believe they were dying on the vine and had to make desperate moves to stay afloat. 

It follows with eschewing the club idea(no, they did not have 1000 names on a waiting list); a more "affordable" lunch option for NYE; and offering a la carts at the bar. All moves made to get more butts in the seats when reservations aren't being booked.

I agree.  Though I woulldn't even characterize it as possibly sinister, plotting, or a "long con".  Most folks, in fact probably 99.9% of folks with a business plan wouldn't have a plan B that involved a 360 degree turn.  If the first idea and implementation doesn't work, you make changes.  Typically the sooner you can do so the better.  At least they garnered a lot of press.  Maybe this will work for them.  Whether this is a 20, 50, 100 or 180% change doesn't matter. Its a change.

The early reviews were generally positive about the quality of the food.  This might work.  We'll see.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

To a large degree the success under the new approach may depend on how much the old approach turned people off.  I would have thought nothing of dropping $95 pp for a tasting menu from a chef whose style looked interesting if the early reviews suggested the quality was there, knowing the total tab after wine, tax and tip could be $400 plus.  I will not do so at Shaw Bijou, though, because the arrogance of original concept left such a sour taste (no pun intended).  There are plenty of places in town where I know that kind of money will get a great meal.

There is also the new administration to consider.  Those of us who have been here a while know the city, and particularly its dining scene, can change dramatically with a new administration and the people it attracts to town.  At this point nobody has any idea what changes may come our way.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jpbloom said:

There is also the new administration to consider.  Those of us who have been here a while know the city, and particularly its dining scene, can change dramatically with a new administration and the people it attracts to town.  At this point nobody has any idea what changes may come our way.  

OMG, I hope that doesn't mean ordering well-done steaks and eating hamburgers with forks and knives....

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/29/2016 at 10:55 PM, DonRocks said:

I think the bigger story (and I'm not singling anyone out here) is that we have no meaningful restaurant criticism in this town. People write about openings, closings, chef changes, a really tasty cheeseburger they had last weekend, but ... where's the critical analysis?

I'm still not understanding the point you're making here, but does the above WaPo article give you what you were looking for?

And if anyone feels that the Post didn't tear Kwame and the team up as much as they deserved, read the comments............yikes.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Bart said:

And if anyone feels that the Post didn't tear Kwame and the team up as much as they deserved, read the comments............yikes.

One recent comment:

Quote

"Humility creeps up on you when least expected"
If it was unexpected, then humility is still a ways away, and this is only the beginning. Maybe when it comes down to laying out the kids' menu, early bird specials, and twofer coupons, it'll sink in for real. Maybe not.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I think the bigger story (and I'm not singling anyone out here) is that we have no meaningful restaurant criticism in this town. People write about openings, closings, chef changes, a really tasty cheeseburger they had last weekend, but ... where's the critical analysis?

I tend to agree with you, Don.  There seems to be more cheerleading (albeit sometimes lukewarm or tepid) than criticism.  I vaguely remember (dis-remember?) a review that said something along the lines of "Inn at Little Washington prices with Harold of Chinatown food".   That wasn't written by the WaPo resident food taster obviously. Unfortunately, I can't find that review now but I do know that people weren't exactly breaking down the door to get "tickets' to fill seats. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, jpbloom said:

There is also the new administration to consider.  Those of us who have been here a while know the city, and particularly its dining scene, can change dramatically with a new administration and the people it attracts to town.  At this point nobody has any idea what changes may come our way.  

If nobody knows, why change right now? 

I bet it's more of a get-backsides-in-the-seats situation.  And I give them credit for realizing they needed to change things now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, lovehockey said:

If nobody knows, why change right now? 

I bet it's more of a get-backsides-in-the-seats situation.  And I give them credit for realizing they needed to change things now.

I agree with you 100%.  I was just commenting on the uncertainty of whether they will succeed with the new approach. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

My plan all along was to give Shaw Bijou some time to settle in before dining there.  Once I saw early reviews that were less than complimentary, I wasn't in a rush to spend the money.  This week's announcement of a price cut has me very enthused and I have plans to dine at Shaw Bijou very soon.  I know there are others like me who find $95 much more palatable compared to $185.  Assuming Kwame delivers on the food- and I am very hopeful that he will- my guess is that there is potential for Shaw Bijou to do well.  The initial price point wasn't sustainable based on the chef not having enough of a reputation to warrant it.  That combined with some early reviews that were less than glowing, and you have a need for the switcheroo.  I sincerely hope it works. I want Shaw Bijou to succeed.     

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Lori Gardner said:

My plan all along was to give Shaw Bijou some time to settle in before dining there.  Once I saw early reviews that were less than complimentary, I wasn't in a rush to spend the money.  This week's announcement of a price cut has me very enthused and I have plans to dine at Shaw Bijou very soon.  I know there are others like me who find $95 much more palatable compared to $185.  Assuming Kwame delivers on the food- and I am very hopeful that he will- my guess is that there is potential for Shaw Bijou to do well.  The initial price point wasn't sustainable based on the chef not having enough of a reputation to warrant it.  That combined with some early reviews that were less than glowing, and you have a need for the switcheroo.  I sincerely hope it works. I want Shaw Bijou to succeed.     

Hey!

Nice, reasonable posts are not allowed here!

Cool it, Gardner! :)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/30/2016 at 5:57 PM, Escoffier said:

I tend to agree with you, Don.  There seems to be more cheerleading (albeit sometimes lukewarm or tepid) than criticism.  I vaguely remember (dis-remember?) a review that said something along the lines of "Inn at Little Washington prices with Harold of Chinatown food".   That wasn't written by the WaPo resident food taster obviously. Unfortunately, I can't find that review now but I do know that people weren't exactly breaking down the door to get "tickets' to fill seats. 

"Harold of Chinatown" now that is some world-class snark.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...