Keegan’s Specialty Seafood Market, an unassuming Salem Road storefront, is like a time-space portal whose other end opens on a dock somewhere along the New England coast. Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but only a little: Nearly every fish, scallop, crab leg, and oyster was in the water less than 48 hours before it was put on ice in the market’s refrigerated case.
Tom Keegan, who has owned the market for eight years, grew up on Long Island and spent summers working at his brother’s marina, where he learned the fishing industry on the front end. Keegan knows the owners of many of the vessels whose catch he sells, and most of the fish is labeled by origin: Louisiana shrimp, Georges Bank scallops, Nova Scotia lobster.
A conversation with Keegan about seafood is peppered with references to tides, water temperatures and salinity, all of which affect flavor. He’s quick to share knowledge, offering to take customers to the commercial kitchen in the back of the store for a demonstration. Not that super-fresh fish requires much fussing. “When you start with a good piece of fish, you don’t need to do much to it,” Keegan says. “I typically cook fish with just salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I want to taste the fish.”
Along with a small, well-curated selection of wines, Keegan’s offers a menu of housemade items: chowders, seafood salads, crab cakes and soups; the house-smoked tuna belly alone is worth the trip. Keegan’s son Brian moonlights as the chef for catering and the store’s popular monthly wine dinners.
If farm-to-table is a leading food trend, Keegan’s is all about boat-to-table, bridging the distance between Cincinnati and the waters that feed us.
Keegan’s Specialty Seafood Market, 6675 Salem Rd., Anderson Twp., (513) 232-5959, keeganseafood.com
Originally published in the January 2013 issue.