Former Town House talent and Food & Wine darling John Shields tells me he’s been spending several days in Washington each week during the past few months as he shops for a location for his next restaurant. 

“It’s pretty serious at this point,” says Shields, who flirted with the District after he and his wife, Karen Urie Shields, bid adieu to Town House in tiny Chilhowie, Va., last winter before settling in Philadelphia, where she has family. “I’m gathering architects, lawyers, accountants.”  

Honored as a Best New Chef by Food & Wine two years ago, Shields says his next venture will be “on my own,” albeit with some investment support from a restaurateur he declined to name.

The project won’t be a repeat of the daring Town House. As he’s matured as a chef, Shields explains, “I’m pulling more things off the plate. But (his next restaurant) won’t be too minimal.”

Most recently, the chef says he “fell in love with” a non-restaurant location in Georgetown whose landlord ended up backing out of a near-deal.

So Philadelphia is off the table? “We gave Philly a chance.”