I guess when you’ve reached Chef Glen Manfra’s status, you can do whatever the hell you want to do. And that’s what he’s doing with Delray Beach’s latest restaurant, The Pop Up. Opened in mid-May, the restaurant’s name pretty much describes what the restaurant is, a pop-up dining experience that will pop down just as quickly as it popped up. In this case, it’s up for four months. And then guess what? He’s ripping it apart and opening up a new restaurant in September. Call this restaurant his starter, his amuse bouche. Like I said, he’s doing whatever the hell he wants to do – and that makes him my new hero.
Made famous by so called pop-up master chef Ludo Lefebvre (TV watchers will recognize him as a Top Chef: Masters alum as well as the guest chef for the Top Chef: All Stars‘ restaurant wars episode – for the record, that’s the episode in which Marcel got booted for being a bad teammate), Chef Glen has brought this popular concept in the one place in South Florida that can actually be OK with pop-ups: Atlantic Avenue.
My fellow editor, Jennifer Tormo, and I dined there last night. The cuisine’s Italian, the dishes are fresh, and I didn’t have to wash a plate. Seems like a good night for me. Before our first bite of anything, we met Chef Glen and talked. And talked. And talked. A friendly and boisterous man, Chef Glen told us the story of how he got here. The CliffNotes version is that this former Bice/Sopra/Vic & Angelo’s chef got burnt out by all the work he was doing that he decided to take a break and spend about two years chilling and cooking in Anguilla. Then he got a phone call to come back to the States, to take over the spot where the newly departed Atlantic Ocean Club resided. And in the words of the man who made the phone call, friend and maitre’d Chris Farren, “It was an offer the chef couldn’t refuse.”
So our dining experience was… monstrous. Plate after plate come out. Drink after drink followed. My favorite dish of the nearly dozen that came out: the pappardelle with truffle oil and porcini and wild mushrooms. Jenn’s favorite: the shrimp cocktail appetizer (this coming from a girl who rarely eats seafood… so that means something!).
We can’t thank the entire staff at The Pop Up enough for treating us so well. To the staff, our thank you comes in the form of this dimly lit, poorly filmed video of server Marcus explaining to us about the dessert plate. As they say in this pop-up restaurant, bon appetit.