“It’s still sinking in,” Patrick Phelan says.
Phelan, his wife Megan Fitzroy Phelan, and Andrew Manning opened Longoven last Thursday for the first weekend of service after years of pop-ups, location searches and nearly giving up altogether.
“It’s just been adrenaline, and get it all done,” Phelan says. “We’re hoping maybe over the July Fourth break we get a chance to reflect on it.”
Opening their own space has been a long journey, but in many ways the work has just begun. The team has set the bar high for themselves, aiming to create Michelin-level decor and service to match the exceptional food. Manning and Patrick’s confident, creative cooking and Megan’s meticulous pastry work have already garnered national attention: as a pop-up, Longoven was named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants of 2016.
The new brick-and-mortar dining spot, designed by Fultz and Singh architects, has understated but rich furnishings on par with Michelin-starred restaurants such as Chicago’s Alinea, Minibar in DC and Momofuku Ko in New York. The on-trend open kitchen invites diners to watch the chefs at work, while the servers cover the 62-seat space in coordinated teams.
“The main difference between this and the pop-ups is service, service, service,” Phelan says. “The pop-up is a shot in time. You’ve bought a ticket, and if wine isn’t poured great, you tend to accept these things. In the restaurant, we have to make that spot on every time. It will take a tremendous amount of training.”
Phelan says the crew intentionally suppressed reservations for opening weekend so as not to stress the staff.
“We wanted to concentrate on the experience, taking it slow and getting it right,” he says. Likewise, the opening menu was designed to be easy to execute by a new kitchen team, still learning to work together.
Like Longoven’s series of pop-ups, the streamlined menu is arranged in order of flavor, with lighter and smaller dishes at the top, and stronger, bolder plates listed at the bottom. Diners can choose dishes a la carte for $11-28, or order the multi-course tasting menu for $110.
Each dish is titled by its three main ingredients. The “asparagus, blue crab, egg” dish on the summer menu combines the crab and asparagus atop an asparagus custard dusted with nori-cured and grated egg yolk. It’s a complex, layered, and bright explosion of perfect spring flavors, and the plating is Instagram-gorgeous.
“Success, to me, will be us having some level of stabilizing, emotionally,” Phelan says. “We’ve existed in the chase for so long that it’s been hard to transition. It hasn’t really dawned on us yet that this thing has taken flight. I’d like to get to the point where we can enjoy the arrival of this stage. Then we can really transition into what Longoven can be.”
2939 W. Clay St.
Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 - 10 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 5 - 11 p.m.