We’ve followed Kelly Graff’s culinary path throughout her career. Starting at the former Checkerberry Inn, she then became executive chef at the now defunct Indigo on 17.
When a building in Goshen became available, she moved-in and built a 12 year following at Kelly Jae’s Café. Then COVID hit, and she closed. When restrictions relaxed last May, she determined it made no sense to reopen!
A couple years ago, M the Market closed, and the Ketring Building in uptown Syracuse became available and Kelly pounced. In May, she and General Manager Beth Grier commenced renovations in earnest.
In December, we got a peek into this creation. The modern-chic, nautically-oriented decor is a reflection of the partners’ personalities. Included are paintings by Kelly’s mother, antique wooden oars once manufactured by her father, eclectic lighting (thick converted rooster cages from Thailand), a floor to ceiling stone wall, decorative pieces from Goshen and a rolling barn door that separates the bar from the main dining area. It’s stunning!
Kelly Jae’s Lakeside
Opens – Softly
With the kitchen ready, the Goshen staff rejoining, and the restaurant stocked, the partners decided to open weekends and doors opened at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22. Seating is limited to 25 at any given time, but regardless, they served 94 Friday and Saturday nights that weekend.
When Kelly told us of the opening, we immediately made reservations at the bar. Arriving early, we settled-in at this new comfort zone. We caught-up with many of the staff. Then perused the menus.Then out came a surprise! The kitchen is experimenting with fresh-baked breads, and a sharable plate of four bread samplings were presented. Served with a delicious raspberry jam and butter, what a great way to start.
Although initially small, many of the popular Goshen dishes are retained. The starter menu has 11 items, so we decided to graze and started with the bacon-wrapped, duck sausage-goat cheese stuffed dates. They are wonderful.
Kelly included most of the salads from the café but added the Lakeside cobb salad, which looks intriguing. For handhelds, the mini-burgers remain, but added are a flatbread, salmon burger and an interesting ABLT. The latter adds avocado to the classic BLT.
The “large plate” section includes the signature wasabi encrusted, soy-glazed salmon. It’s the best salmon entrée in Lake Country. There are six other entrees with a couple having Kelly’s Asian influence.
Instead, we chose the coconut shrimp from the starter menu. Four extra jumbo shrimps were coated with crispy, shredded coconut giving a wonderful crunch with the perfectly cooked shrimp. Served with a slightly spicy raspberry coulis, this dish is special.
The five sides listed includes another carryover — papas frites. We concluded with these special fries. Served with a roasted garlic-cumin aioli, they’re spot-on. Those and a beer served in an ice cold pilsner glass made for a perfect ending.
The cozy ambience with elegant decor makes you overly comfortable. You don’t want to leave!
Kelly Jae’s Lakeside will surely have a substantial impact on the Lake Country culinary scene. Make reservations by texting (260) 267-5523. Reservations are now being taken for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings during March.