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The World Is Your Oyster And Kee Oyster House Is The Pearl

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In the words of James Beard," There is nothing quite as wonderful as a freshly opened oyster with just a squirt of lemon juice. "It was in anticipation of this treat, that I visited the new Kee Oyster House in White Plains. Enter the beautifully designed sophisticated space into a comfortable bar area with its marble topped bar, high tables, white tile floor, and a display of fresh oysters that give the restaurant its name. A glass partition separates it from the main dining room with its black and white theme. Here, black tile flooring, banquettes and dark wood free standing tables and a working fireplace. With many windows looking out on the busy downtown area, Kee Oyster House boasts a true New York City look. They seat about 110 guests with a private dining room for about 25 guests... The attentive wait staff is impeccably outfitted in crisp white shirts, serviceable aprons and bright cheerful orange neckties, setting the mood for an upbeat dining experience.

Oyster2Kee Oyster House is at the location that once housed Tango Grill and is owned by Kenan Neziraj, Ekrem Xhemaijli and Elvi Hoxhaj who are both friends and partners. Together, they have assembled a capable staff who keep Kee running like a well oiled machine. The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Lou Rexepehi whose resume includes Le Bernardin and Kitti Chai and Chef de Cuisine James McCue a CIA graduate with experience at Crabtree Kittle House and Harvest on Hudson. I spent time with the enthusiastic Elvi Hoxhaj, a veteran in the restaurant business with 13 years of experience at Sparks Steak House. He was inspired by his grandfather, an immigrant who taught him a good work ethic and who he is as a person. He and his partners worked hard to create a team that would execute their vision of a fine seafood restaurant. Elvi informed me that," New York, in the late 1800's and early 1900's is our inspiration, when the city was the oyster capital. "{Trinity Church was built on a foundation based on oyster mortar} "We are true to who we are and we use the freshest and highest quality ingredients and only fresh herbs. Our menu is small but great. We try to give our guests what they want. Our mantra is simple and fresh. Our technique is simple and our quality speaks for itself. We are hospitality driven and have a fine relationship with our suppliers and we serve a consistent product. Our goal is to be the best seafood restaurant in Westchester. One of the owners is always present. "

Our tasting included selections from both the lunch and dinner menus. A Sunday brunch menu will be included in the near future. True to their name, we started with a variety of oysters. Kee offers 4 east coast and 2 west coast selections delivered fresh daily. Oysters pick up the flavor of their surroundings. Oysters that grow in cold waters have a briny flavor and those from warmer waters are usually milder and more buttery in texture. From Canada, French kiss and Beausoleil were my favorites. The Kumomoto and Blue Point oysters were delicious, as well. The Wellfleet variety was a bit too salty to my taste. They all arrived on a crushed ice lined metal plate with a scattering of seaweed to hold the shells in place. They were shucked immediately before serving. Cocktail sauce, freshly grated white horseradish and a delightful champagne mignonette sauce accompanied this wondrous course. The oysters here, as indicated by Elvi, are treated with care, like babies. Towers with a selection from the raw bar and a unique hot bar tower with grilled oysters and baked clams among its selections are a lovely way to start your meal. We chose several starters from the dinner menu. Outstanding was a mussel and chorizo stew. The plump moist mussels in their shells and the crumbled chorizo were bathed in a fragrant white wine broth enhanced by fresh herbs and slivers of garlic slice of grilled country bread was included for dipping. Baby bbq ribs followed. Brushed with a piquant whole grain mustard sauce and garnished with fresh herbs, they were a fall off the bone treat. Tuna tartare appears on many menus, often with an Asian flavor. Here, the chunks of tuna and avocado were dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette and rested on a carpaccio of cucumber slices. Crisp chips were added to the presentation. Other possible starters are calamari with chili aioli, clam chowder, and romaine with buffalo shrimp and a blue cheese drizzle.

Entrees from both land and sea are expertly prepared. We chose East Coast Roasted Halibut with a grape tomato oyster3stew. This healthy portion of fish was topped with a grape tomato and slivered onion combination, beautifully seasoned and cooked just until the tomatoes were soft with the skin still intact. The dish was excellent in its simplicity and freshness. Grilled whole fish, perhaps branzino is served whole or boned. Pan seared snapper with a roasted pepper coulis, and grilled organic salmon with lemon butter sauce are other options. If you prefer your entrees from land, steaks, pork chops, rack of lamb and grilled chicken are all of prime quality. The Kee surf and turf entrees for two come in a variety of pairings. Choose from beef tenderloin and lobster, chicken and pork sirloin, or rack of lamb and lobster. If you want to concentrate on lobster it is steamed to perfection and served with drawn butter. It will be deshelled tableside upon request. Side dishes of sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower and brie and seafood risotto are some of the nice accompaniments to order with your entrée.

We just couldn't resist the "on the bun "selections from the lunch menu. We loved the oyster po"boy with homemade Old Bay chips. The blue point oysters were breaded with flour and cornmeal and fried to a golden crisp and served on a bun with chili aioli. The lobster roll was among the best I've had. The toasted roll, brimming over with tender chunks of lobster meat, nicely dressed and well seasoned. A Kee lump crabmeat burger, a Kee burger and BBDQ pork roll are yet to be sampled.

Desserts are all house made. We indulged in a sensational individual key lime pie. The crisp crust encased a filling of fresh lime and lime zest. The crowning glory was freshly whipped cream and berries. A fresh sugar cookie and a touch of crème anglaise completed the picture. The classic pecan tart was not overly sweet and very tasty with a topping of vanilla ice cream.

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The menu selections at Kee Oyster House have been carefully planned and tested resulting in perfectly executed dishes. As the name suggests, Kee Oyster House offers pristinely fresh oysters and much more.
Kee Oyster House
126- 128 East Post Road
White Plains
914-437-8535

Click here to access their website.

KEE TUNA TARTARE (SERVES 1)

I cup fresh tuna, in small cubes
8 very thin slices of cucumber
½ an avocado, cubed
Fresh microgreens for garnish
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1 cup vinegar
3 cups olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

In a blender or with a whisk, blend together the juices, vinegar, mustard and oil. In a bowl toss the tuna and avocado. Arrange the cucumber slices on a plate to form a circular base. Toss the tuna mixture with about 2 Tbsps. of the dressing Place the tuna mixture in a mound atop the cucumbers and top with microgreens. Serve. The remaining dressing can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.

JudieJudie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.

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