This Nostalgic Custard Shop Is the Latest to Join the Roost Food Hall Lineup

State Fair will have a make-your-own sundae bar.

Homemade custard from State Fair, the custard shop at the Roost. Photograph by Stacey Windsor.

State Fair is the latest concept to join the lineup at the Roost, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s new food emporium coming to Capitol Hill this spring. The custard stop will share a space with the coffeehouse Cameo when the Roost finally unveils its “culinary clubhouse” this spring. 

Helmed by pastry chef Allie Cheppa (who previously worked with the NRG as a sous chef for Buzz Bakeshop), the stall will feature frozen confections offered a la carte, as well as a choose-your-own adventure sundae bar with various sauces, sprinkles, and crumbles for topping. The homemade custard will come in two classic flavors: vanilla and chocolate.

“The whole take is going to be a whimsical nod to Midwest state fairs,” Cheppa says. “It’s going to be really fun and playful, bright and energetic.” 

Can’t decide? Try a sampling of three sundaes at State Fair. Photograph by Stacey Windsor.

The inspiration for the menu reflects that cornball, zany spirit, Cheppa says, but with a contemporary twist. Take “Oh Fudge!” as an example. Candied cocoa nibs, hot fudge sauce, and gluten free brownie tears get jam packed on top of chocolate custard. On the saltier side, “Cracker Jack” piles caramel sauce, buttered popcorn, and Virginia peanuts on top of vanilla custard. And paying homage to State Fair’s neighbor, Cameo, the “Notsofogato” puts a custardy spin on an affogato.  

Cheppa has planned ahead for the indecisive eater (or anyone hoping to sample everything): there will be a shareable (or not) tasting flight with your choice of three sundaes, including rotating seasonal options.  

While Cheppa herself isn’t from the Midwest, her native Pittsburgh did have its fair share of county fairs. And, as she puts it, everyone has sentimental memories surrounding frozen desserts, whether it was celebratory scoops at an ice cream shop or popsicles after pool time.

“We always want to pull up those really fun, playful memories, and sometimes you don’t realize that they’re still in the depths of your memory until you taste something and it … pops up,” Cheppa says. “As a pastry chef, I’ve always enjoyed when customers share that experience with me. It creates such connectedness and relatability.”

The Roost, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 

Emma Francois is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian covering everything from food to fashion. She graduated from Georgetown University and has previously worked for USA Today, the Georgetown Voice, and the Chautauquan Daily.