Great Food Destination / Seacoast: Stages: The Kitchen & The Living Room
When award-winning chef Evan Hennessey opened Stages: The Kitchen at 1 Washington Street in Dover in 2012, it was considered a radical concept. A handful of guests dined in his custom kitchen while he cooked a multi-course meal practically at their elbows. The cuisine showcased a range of unique concepts (think steamed custard of leeks and spinach, scallops, black garlic and caraway), and as he cooked, Hennessey shared the story of each dish.
Stages was an immediate hit, and Hennessey has kept pushing the envelope. In June of 2021, he created The Living Room, a cozy, couch-filled space filled with his personal cookbooks, board games and an easy-going ambience. Guests order custom cocktails, mocktails or wine and choose from an extensive small plates menu.
Whereas The Kitchen requires reservations, The Living Room invites you to drop in unannounced for a quick refreshment or to linger. “The Living Room was the next piece of the puzzle,” says Hennessey. “We wanted to expand that intimate experience and invite people into our home, as it were.”
Enhancing the experience is Bernadette James, Stages’ new sommelier, who creates a medley of interesting cocktails and nine to 10 mocktails with intricate, layered flavors.
The Kitchen also enlisted chef de cuisine Joseph Ganley to join the team and expand their culinary offerings. “We serve 10 to 11 courses, starting with our ‘Walk Through the Forest’ tray, featuring small tastes of a diverse array of treats,” explains Hennes-sey. “We serve this and our first savory course in The Living Room, as you would at home, then adjourn to The Kitchen for the rest of the meal. We take guests on an incredible cooking journey, but always end with our classic: my daughter’s hand-shaved chocolate cookies, which we serve with frothed lavender milk. We encourage dipping!”
The Living Room also offers game nights the first Thursday of every month. Guests compete in Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, Scrabble, Pictionary and more, with the chance to win a gift card to The Kitchen. Hennessey’s next surprise is opening a private dining room, adjacent to his current venues, so guests can enjoy their own personal eating adventures.