Chef Constantine Kalandris has staked his claim at yet another address. The chef-owner of 8 North Broadway in Nyack and 273 Kitchen in Harrison opened 251 LEX in Mount Kisco in late September.
Located in a century-old Victorian with ample parking on the corner of Lexington and Moore avenues, 251 is welcoming and quaint from first approach. On the inside, white brick and tiles, repurposed wood and royal blue accents suggest the colors at a casual coastal spot on the Mediterranean and reflect the raw bar and grill menu.
Like Kalandris’ other restaurants, 251 offers a prix-fixe menu with three courses and dessert, plus à la carte options. The Mount Kisco spot is the largest of the chef’s restaurants with about 35 seats in the main dining room, a 30-seat outdoor patio with a spit roast and some 70 seats upstairs in a space that is available for private events but was not yet open when we visited.
The restaurant combines familiar Mediterranean ingredients (fish, lamb, pita bread, olives and other vegetables) in unusual recipes on a locally sourced menu that changes daily. In a cozy spot for two near the kitchen and the bar, we sampled a variety of small plates from the menu. Every plate that came out of the kitchen popped with color from the white dishware or sizzled on entrée-sized skillets.
Our first bite, a single oyster served in a steel bucket with a delicate arrangement of greens, was a well-seasoned introduction to 251’s seafood fare. After, we tried warm octopus with marinated chickpeas and seared bass, which packed a tangy punch.
The seafood and other dishes went swimmingly (pun intended) with the wines our waiter suggested from 251’s extensive list. At around 7:30, the bar became crowded with multiple generations, bringing more energy to the previously quiet area. The staff was working hard, quickly shuttling dish after dish, yet was still attentive and friendly to the patrons who filled the small main room on a Wednesday evening during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.
While the dishes from the sea are a standout, you won’t want to miss the meat. A classic — steak and potatoes — was unexpected at a Mediterranean restaurant but was perfectly tender.
My favorite dish was a cassoulet of lamb shank with orzo pasta. The seemingly everyday ingredients melded together for a rich and comforting dish, hitting the spot on a fall evening.
Besides cassoulet, I also learned about gnudi, the dumpling-shaped form of gnocchi. The restaurant served doughy and creamy gnudi with feta. I ate only one dumpling but could have easily had many.
Another interesting dish was a creamy, cool-green artichoke soup. The flavors were present but would have been accentuated had the soup been hotter.
When it comes time for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the whipped yogurt and honey if you’re health-conscious. It’s what yogurt should taste like — natural and creamy. For those with a sweet tooth, the chocolate pot de crème is a decadent delight.
The restaurant has something for everyone, whether it’s raw fish or a hearty meat dish with Mediterranean flair. I’d return dressed in jeans with a friend for a few small plates and a cocktail, or dressed up with a date for a three-course meal, with wine, of course. Look for new menu items, lunch and brunch (likely available next year), and outdoor dining that won’t be quite like a coastal, breezy Mediterranean spot but will certainly bring you there in taste.
For more, visit 251Lex.com.