Even though he’s put on a half dozen or so dining events since last March, Phoenix Supper Club chef and founder Tommy Halvorson called last Friday’s dinner his launch. The city’s latest fine-dining pop-up smoldered for months as Halvorson assembled his team, built his website, and figured out his concept. Phoenix comes in three components: A regular bi-monthly pop-up restaurant, an edgier, individually scheduled five-course dinner called Mephisto, and a nine-course dinner called Loretto that involves a ride in a limousine. All take place in art galleries.
A former sous-chef at Bix and Betty Zlatchin Catering, Halvorson said his idea for Phoenix was to combine the worlds of fine restaurant dining and catering. “If you’re going to feed 200 people at the same time you’re going to have to pre-sear your fish and pre-sear your meat. I had a problem with that,” Halvorson said of his tenure as a caterer. But he didn’t want to continue the 60 and 70-hour weeks required at restaurants like Bix. “I had no time for a life. I lost the girl I moved out here with.” Phoenix is a catered event that operates like a restaurant, with staggered seatings and an emphasis on service. “It’s like a three, three and a half star restaurant… but the next day it’s gone, which is cool. [Like] I went to dinner last night and today it’s an art gallery again.” In addition to the regularly scheduled Phoenix and the repeating Mephisto and Loretto, Halvorson and his team are doing a monthly Monday street food dinner called Eat at 111 Minna, which happens to be going down tonight. “We have a DJ, a band, and a full bar with drink specials. I have a menu with seven items… We do pork belly tacos, duck flat bread.” At this rate, Halvorson will be back up to Bix-style work weeks soon, but as the boss he doesn’t seem to mind so much.