Chef David Deshaies’ “pot pie poppers” are likely to emerge as one of the must-order items when Unconventional Diner opens at 1207 9th St. NW in Shaw on Dec. 18.
The restaurant from Deshaies, a mentee of the late Michel Richard, will appeal to diners who want to swap dainty food with supremely comforting fare. Richard, despite having the finesse of a fine dining chef, loved greasy spoons and encouraged his protégé to open a diner.
Other menu highlights include kale nachos topped with cumin yogurt ($9), chicken noodle soup with a scallion matzo ball ($15), croque monsieur mac ‘n’ cheese ($18), and meatloaf with a Sriracha glaze and morel mushroom gravy ($22). There will also be a robust pastry program featuring baked-on-site cinnamon rolls, cakes, and pies. See the full menu below.
Drinks at the 8,000-square-foot restaurant will include craft cocktails, domestic beers, and international wines. In addition to the dining room, there’s a quick-service counter, café area for coffee and pastries, and a bar. Designers opted for a green and peach color palette accented by Andy Warhol prints.
Deshaies, who still has a crisp French accent, moved to the U.S. in 2001 to work at Citronelle in Georgetown. Despite coming from a three-star Michelin restaurant where he was a sous chef, Deshaies started as a line cook at Citronelle while he learned English. After a year and a half, he re-upped his visa instead of going back to France and was promoted to sous chef. Three years later, he became the executive chef—a position he held for eight years.
In 2012, Deshaies went to work at Central Michel Richard on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. He came on as a partner at the more casual brasserie and while he oversaw the kitchen, he also stepped into the role of general manager to learn things like human resources and accounting in preparation for opening his own restaurant.
When it opens later this month, Unconventional Diner will serve dinner six nights a week from 5 p.m. to midnight and close on Sundays. Soon after, they’ll expand their hours to serve breakfast and lunch.
Unconventional Diner, 1207 9th St. NW; unconventionaldiner.com