PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House , fashioned in a contemporary Nantucket-style with nostalgic nautical charm, has opened in the former Willet House space in Port Chester.
The eatery, which officially opened Sept. 1, is owned by Rye resident Leslie “Les” Barnes, a second generation seafood buyer and aquaculture buff who has deep-rooted relationships with fisherman from Rhode Island to the Jersey Shore.
“I speak the language of salty fishmongers and oystermen,” said Barnes, who fondly remembers early morning buying trips to the original Fulton Fish Market to source seafood for his family's restaurant, London Lennie’s, located in Queens.
"My father would wake me up at 3 a.m. and we’d go off to the fish market for glistening, standout whole fish....the kind that jump out and say ‘Buy me,'" he explained.
Barnes went on to master every station at London Lennie’s, taking over the business at 22. After decades of running London Lennie’s and raising a family with four daughters, he found the space that now houses Saltaire: a historic grain warehouse with 30-foot ceilings and original exposed brick just miles from his home.
“A building like this is a rare find," he said. "The timing was right to open Saltaire."
The menu, which is printed daily, is led by Executive Chef Bobby Will, a seafood aficionado with roots in coastal New England, and focuses on minimalist preparations that complement the natural flavor of the fish.
There is also an extensive raw bar manned by shuckers which form the centerpiece of the bar area.
The cocktails are aligned with the food thanks to Consulting Mixologist Clinton Terry, an accomplished chef in his own right who makes everything from scratch, from the syrups and bitters to the house-made sodas and freshly squeezed juices.
The emphasis is on fresh, local, and seasonal, with classically inspired signature drinks as well as barrel aged cocktails.
Barnes’ daughter, Teagan, designed the beer program to showcase local craft brewers served on tap and by the bottle.
There is also a well-thought out wine list with a number of wines on tap.
Saltaire is located at 55 Abendroth Avenue, (914) 939-2425, www.saltaireoysterbar.com/ .