Photo by Jay Paul
Do you like the statue of David? A lot? You’re going to love L’Opossum. Opening tonight at 5 p.m. in Oregon Hill, owner David Shannon is ready to go. Things like vichyssoise with blue crab relish, soft shell crabs sandwiched between sweetbeads in a sherried bisque (“She Sells Soft Shells”) and a barbecued lamb chop, plus ribs and a drumstick over peaches and slow-cooked coleslaw (“Hollywood Bone Yard”) dot his debut menu. This ain’t your grand-mère’s cooking.
It’s not Pescados anymore either. Those statue of Davids? They’re about 12-inches high, and you’ll see about 15 of them behind the hostess station when you come in. Shannon bought one on eBay years ago. “From the box, I tracked down the distributor in Oklahoma,” he says. And he bought 30 of them.
Wildly colored light fixtures hang everywhere, plates by John Waters (his interpretations of Barbie heads) hang on the mirrored wall (crackled with gold, of course) lining the left side of the space, and you’ll find even more plates, paintings and unexpected touches (gold Chinese lions clutch the window’s valance in their teeth) everywhere else.
Shannon once told me that he wanted to invite everyone to take a trip to Crazy Town with L’Opossum. The overall effect is crazy — but it’s a distinctly personal, idiosyncratic (at the risk of sounding redundant) style that somehow comes together and works. The place exudes comfort and is a welcome change from the stark, the rustic and the industrial design so popular in restaurants today. “You know how you envision something in your head?” Shannon said. “I can’t believe it, but this is exactly what I wanted — bit by bit, it all came together.” He’s been collecting the artwork, lighting and accessories for years, squirreling them away for his dream restaurant.
You might want to say that the dream he’s achieved is a fevered one — but the strongest impression you leave with is an unexpected one in the dining world. This restaurant has a sense of humor. There will be things you see that will make you laugh out loud. The dishes’ names on the menu are wildly inventive. This place is seriously fun.
I talked to Mamma ‘Zu’s Ed Vasaio about L’Opposum a couple of weeks ago. “I’ve always admired David’s food,” he said. “I think it’s going to make business better here for everybody.” With serious chops earned from years past at the Inn at Little Washington and at his last restaurant, Dogwood Grille & Spirits, ultimately, we all need to take a trip to Crazy Town to taste the food from a talented chef who finally has all the room in the world to flex his muscles — exactly the way he wants to.