Stages at One Washington is in the small town of Dover, NH on the third floor of an historic mill building. Chef Evan Hennessey offers just 6 seats for his fixed price tasting menu Thursday thru Saturday evenings. There are 2 seatings each night but he recently added “the Living Room” which is not only a place to wait for your seating but also where you can get some of his fabulous food and drinks in a no-reservations setting resembling a living room. It is in the room adjacent to the kitchen where for nine years the lucky few are seated at a counter and can casually converse with the chef while he prepares your food and/or pours your wine. Pairings are available as are a number of cocktails and bottles of wine. The meal is 8-10 courses and no menu is provided as he often changes as he goes along with a menu that features local farms and foraged ingredients. (I wrote as fast as I could but apologies if I didn’t get all the ingredients or preparations written down.) It is full of interesting combinations and lots of flavors in the foods. Definitely off the beaten path, but if you have a chance to eat with this native chef of Dover, I suggest you jump on it.
Meal and Kitchen
Red beets were roasted over the fire and then combined with rhubarb, herbs, roasted onion and creme fraiche. The sweetness of the onion was a good contrast with the tartness of the rhubarb and the earthiness of the beets. Lots of textures in this dish but the beets and rhubarb were cooked to perfection without any stringiness. The herbs used brought out the best of the other ingredient’s flavors for a very good result.
Black pearl (hybrid blending King Trumpet and oyster mushroom) mushrooms were on top of a nori custard cooked in brown butter and topped with toasted walnut butter and black garlic oil. The earthy mushrooms were delicious with the walnut butter paste and crispy nori leaf. This was a dish full of flavor and well composed. The great ingredients made this one a winner.
Yellowfin tuna was with ginger and Watermelon and Daikon radishes and topped with a house-made tonnato (dried fish flakes) in a hot dashi broth made with goose fat. The broth alone was enough to make the dish a success but then there was the wonderful fish to add to it. The plate had great depth of flavor with the fish and broth. However, I’m not sure I thought the radishes added to it even though they were fine on their own.
A butter poached duck egg was combined with toasted macadamia nuts in a hard reduced chicken broth and topped with a pesto of garlic scapes. The nuts added a good crunch and toasting really brought out their flavor. The creamy richness of the egg combined with the reduced broth and pesto to produce a divine taste and lovely aroma. Another good one.
Eye of beef ribeye was topped with cumin, coriander, and cinnamon alongside a mayo with miso vinegar and topped with grated dried apple. The beef was medium rare and well coated with the various spices. It combined well with mayo that was great with the subtle sweet apple flavor.
Warm brie cream was combined with apple cider vinegar and ginger and served with warm dry shiitake madeleines. The brie was aerated to made it whippy and it floated on the cider vinegar. You could eat the madeleines separately or dip them in the cheese. The warm pastries were heavenly with mushroomy goodness and lovely eaten with the liquid cheese. You couldn’t go wrong with this one.
Grilled rhubarb was mixed with toasted almond granola and topped with wintergreen and pine-shoots ice cream. The wine pairing here was a syrupy sherry and they were great together. Lots of texture was in this dish but it was not overly sweet, however very satisfying. The tart rhubarb was well paired with the other intense flavors.
Chef Hennessey’s daughter Emma created cookies that have been part of the tasting menu for years. (Her artwork is on the wall next to the counter.) They were served with lavender milk which you could dip in or drink with. Here was the sweet fix I love at the end of a meal. A chocolate chip type of cookie that was served warm. They were delicious. Crisp on the edge with loads of chocolate in the interior. A yummy way to end the fine meal.