Chef Kwame Onwuachi's forthcoming fine dining restaurant The Shaw Bijou will be tasting menu–only. But in the meantime, the recent Top Chef contestant is cooking up Philly cheesesteaks, wings, and fries.
Granted, Onwuachi isn't going totally low-brow. At his Philly Wing Fry pop-up starting at 11 a.m. on April 2 and 3 at Union Market, the chef is serving 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. (Onwuachi says the waffle fries are not a reference to the frozen waffles that got him kicked of Top Chef.)
All three items come together in a boxed meal with a drink (black tea with yuzu, cucumber apple soda) for $15. All the proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign to end child hunger in America.
While you won't find any of these items on the menu at The Shaw Bijou, Onwuachi says, they would be on the menu at a fast-casual concept, if he ever did one. As for whether he'll do more Philly Wing Fry pop-ups in the meantime? "We'll see what the public says. If they demand more, then we'll bring it back out," he says.
Onwuachi also shared some more details about The Shaw Bijou, which is slated to open at 1544 9th St. NW in late May or early June. In addition to the tasting menu–only dining room, an upstairs bar will be devoted to a members-only bar and lounge that will serve a lot of rare liquors. Onwuachi says to become a member, people would have to submit an application and pay a yet-to-be-determined fee. If you're not a member, the only way to get in is as a guest of one.
The bar will have a 24-hour concierge, so that members can stop by any time. "They would have to reserve it obviously, but let's say they had friends coming into town or a friend was leaving at 5 a.m. on the plane, and they want to go somewhere until then, they can hang out at this members-only bar and lounge and there will be someone there for them," Onwuachi says.
The bar will also have a "hunting fee" that members can pay to have the bar team track down rare bottles of alcohol. "Let's say they wanted a 1973 bottle of Old Fitzgerald [whiskey], we would find and source that for them," Onwuachi says. He says the fee would depend on how hard it was to find the bottle, but he wouldn't cite a price range. Lockers will be available at the bar to hold those prized goods.
Photo by Kevin Carroll