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Daniel O’Brien, a former sous chef at Equinox and Bibiana, is one of the hardest-working cooks in town. Not only did he hand-build his Shaw market, but he makes the excellent pickles, sauces, and takeaway foods that fill its shelves. Three nights a week, he shows off his high-art side, turning the shop into a mini-restaurant with a communal table for ten and putting out gorgeously composed and richly satisfying plates.

Despite the cramped space and folding chairs, the place brims with character. A vintage bike sits in the window, the menu is sketched out with drawings on a placemat, and customers befriend tablemates. Just past the head of the table, O’Brien works alone, looking up only to explain what’s on the plate. Reservations are taken online, checks paid in advance through PayPal. The set menu price ($90) includes tax, tip, and wine.

What to get: O’Brien turns out one four-course menu each weekend–no substitutions–and announces it two weeks in advance. Hits have included searingly hot squid with chilies and mint; a “fig newton” with foie gras; slow-roasted salmon with parsnips; rabbit ballotine. In the market, mac and cheese and salty-caramel ice cream.

Open Thursday through Saturday for dinner. Market open Tuesday and Wednesday 2 to 8, Thursday and Friday 2 to 7, Saturday and Sunday noon to 7. Expensive.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.