One of the most anticipated restaurants of the season, Le Diplomate from Philadelphia restaurant mogul Stephen Starr, announced the name of its top toque today: Adam Schop. The 37-year-old chef, whose resume includes the pan-Latin Nuela in New York and the admired Zinc Bistro in Scottsdale, beat out more than a dozen serious candidates for the job – including three French chefs.
Praising his hire for his interest in the evolution of dishes as much as for his cooking skills, Starr says, “He’s almost an archaeologist of food.”
The restaurateur, who has had his eye on Washington for some time, says he can’t wait to open his 30th food concept next month.
“I’m fascinated by politics,” says Starr, who plans to introduce the 200-seat French restaurant at 1601 14th St. NW in late March. Washington, he adds, is also “a great city to run in.”
The nation’s capital doesn’t lack French options, but Starr thinks Le Diplomate — what he calls a more intimate version of his Parc restaurant on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia — brings something extra to the table. The charms include a corner location in Logan Circle, an independent structure rather than “something in an office building” and — not unlike in Paris — an umbrella-covered terrace. (Sixty seats looking onto Q St. NW)
“It’s going to feel as if you’re somewhere else, without being theme-y,” Starr says of the forthcoming dining room. His designer scoured flea markets and farmhouses in France and Belgium, returning with bar tops, moldings and millwork to dress the interior.
Reached in Paris, where he’s concluding a six-day tour of some 20 bistros and brasseries, Schop offered a preview of his still-evolving menu for Le Diplomate. The chef hopes to appeal to multiple appetites with oysters and Champagne for celebrants; omelets, steak frites and quiche for bistro fans; and more elaborate fare for the adventurous. Picture lavender-roasted, dry-aged duck and suckling pig with prune gastrique.
Starr says he was warned against serving breakfast, but he’s offering the meal (“a magical time”) anyway. Bread baked in-house throughout the day and coffee from Philadelphia’s artisanal roaster La Colombe, should help the cause.
Starr says the name for the restaurant originated during a trip to Paris, when he passed a restaurant with some chairs parked out front. They were labeled “Le Diplomate,” a brand that stuck in his head and seemed fitting for his latest market.