Keon’s opens a new location at the Black Swan in Georgetown. By Anna and David Kasabian
Usually, a new restaurant needs a bit of a warm-up before it comes into its own. But Keon’s at the Black Swan was cruising along like an established neighborhood institution just two weeks after its July opening, thanks to the steady hand of executive chef Sean Demers at the tiller.
Demers is a self-taught chef who started in the same place as many of the best at his craft: at the bottom. For 13 years, he has honed his culinary skills, and it has paid off. These picky reviewers were delighted with the quality and imagination of each plate placed before us.
We started with the Korean BBQ pork appetizer served with house-made potato chips. A generous mound of wondrously tender pulled pork is bathed in the chef’s nicely balanced barbecue sauce, delivering a hint of sweet, a splash of sour, and subtle smoke. It’s thick and deeply flavored but still allows the pork flavor to shine through.
Who could resist the baked lobster mac and cheese appetizer? Fresh, sweet chunks of tender lobster are piled atop penne al dente in a delicate Mornay sauce, and the whole thing is baked until the buttered breadcrumbs on top are perfectly toasted. It’s a marvelous medley of tastes and textures.
Next: the potato leek soup topped with crispy smoked bacon. This is a hearty, rustic soup flavored with leeks, Yukon Gold potatoes, chicken stock, cream, herbs, and a little bacon fat-very satisfying, with an earthy, potato taste.
First up for the main course was the chicken morel with wild mushroom cream sauce, potato pie, and broccolini gratin. The skin of the boneless chicken breast is beautifully crisped, while the meat is moist and quite flavorful, which, according to Chef Demers, is the result of two days of brining in spices, herbs, and brown sugar. The dish pairs nicely with the Sonoma Valley Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc that smells of stone fruit (peaches, plums, and the like) and tastes crisp and dry, with hints of pineapple.
Next, filet mignon with port wine demi-glace, grilled asparagus, and whipped Yukon Gold potatoes. A classic dish like this demands outstanding execution, and Chef Demers and his team are up to it. The steak is melt-in-your-mouth tender; the sauce is velvety and intense. A J. Lohr Seven Oaks California Cabernet Sauvignon, redolent of blackberry and raspberry, provides a sturdy accompaniment to the meal.
Don’t miss the strawberry pecan shortcake with its extra-moist, yeasty tasting cake, lots of fresh pecans, and naturally sweet strawberries. It’s a dessert classic taken to new heights.
Considering that the original Keon’s in Haverhill has been winning over patrons for 10 years, serving a similar menu at this country club outpost makes good sense. Yet judging by the considerable number of smiling diners we saw-early, on a weeknight-this Keon’s location is well on its way to building a fabulous reputation of its own.
Chef: Sean Demers. Appetizers: Korean BBQ Pork ($9), Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese ($13). Soup: Potato Leek Soup ($7), Entrees: Chicken Morel ($19), Filet Mignon ($33), Dessert: Strawberry Pecan Shortcake ($6). Location: Black Swan Country Club, 258 Andover Street, Georgetown, 978-352-2900, keons.com.