Keon’s 105 Bistro ~ Gem of a Restaurant
Photo & Article by Taylor Van Arsdale
Having dinner alone is often a reality for me, part of my gig, you could say, so when I stop in for a bite, I expect three things of the staff and my dining experience; 1) excellent service, 2) quality food and 3) a pleasant atmosphere. Keon’s 105 Bistro surpassed my expectations in every way.
In town, from Los Angeles, for Norm & Mary’s 2nd Annual Summer Solstice Jam; a semi-private festival for musicians and music lovers held on their acreage in Merrimac; and staying at the Haverhill Best Western I was questioning the locals on places to eat. The only tip I got was “drive down River Street, you’ll see a bunch of restaurants.”
It is true, River Street takes you to a quaint downtown area with faded brick buildings reminiscent of another era—we have nothing so charming and so laden with history here in Los Angeles. This was authentic east coast history and I was immediately drawn to a sign that read, “Steaks & Chops.” The restaurant’s blue exterior and inviting outside patio welcomed this weary traveler. Inside, the dark walls and warm wood tones were both comforting and relaxing and I chose a wood booth in the back where I could spread out and work never expecting my palette to be so entertained.
Owned and operated by chef-turned restaurateur Alan Boisvert, Keon’s “makes everything from scratch and everything is fresh,” said Boisvert who provides direction for the menu but added, “I give the chef a lot of autonomy.”
Creative Chef Robert Giallongo serves up combinations that both delight and inspire. Baby spinach and arugula are tossed in a warm, bacon-Dijon vinaigrette with shaved red onions, apple wood bacon, toasted almonds and wait for it…smoked Gouda croutons. Quite possibly the best salad I’ve ever had; just the right blend of almonds and bacon and the Gouda crotons were like nothing I’d ever tasted; breaded and fried cheese tidbits that when bitten into, burst in your mouth with the most exquisite taste.
Next up, the Maryland Crab Cakes. These are pan-seared and served with a toasted corn polenta and an ancho remouladé (not digging mayonnaise, Chef Robert happily culled together a clear chili sauce for me instead). As I’m from the east coast I’ve had crab cakes everywhere—but these were exactly the way crab cakes ought to be—melting in your mouth, with just the right amount of crab to breading and the pairing of corn polenta was delightful.
They’ve just added a new California zinfandel to the wine list; and it’s a must try—Brazen Lodi; full bodied and delicious, a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Another dish worth trying—the Cranberry-Cornbread Chicken. A double-sided chicken breast is herb marinated and pan seared and served with cranberry cornbread and sausage stuffing and a white wine pan sauce.
Locals who don’t know about this restaurant, take it from a visitor—you’ve got a hidden gem in your midst.
For more information: http://www.keons.com/home.php
105 Washington Street • Haverhill, MA
Note to Out-of-Towners: River Street merges into Washington