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Eat and Drink

Southern restaurant Mr. White brings chargrilled oysters and Cajun Micheladas to St. Marks

It’s a busy week at Mr. White.

On Feb. 12, the restaurant opened on St. Marks Place. On Feb. 13, the Southern spot hosts Mardi Gras revelers. And on Feb. 14, it will welcome diners for Valentine’s Day.

“We expect it to be a nutty week,” managing partner Jeffrey White said. “We’re going to go from green and gold to red roses in a quick turnaround.”

The nightlife veteran is teaming up with chef and partner Andrew Dunleavy and marketing manager and partner Kelly Rheel for his first restaurant, at 123 St. Marks Pl.

The eatery’s namesake gave amNewYork a run down on what to expect.

The food

Mr. White's chargrilled oysters. Credit: Jason Greenspan
Photo Credit: Jason Greenspan

“What we’re doing is what we call fancy Southern food,” said White, a Kentucky native who grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, before calling New York home. “We mean the ingredients, techniques and regional traditions of the South — from Texas to Florida to New Orleans and the rest — and putting things together in ways that haven’t been traditionally done, with French technique. It’s like elevated peasant food.” 

For research, the owners did a New Orleans food crawl that included Acme Oyster House and Felix’s.

“The chargrilled oysters at Felix’s I thought was the best food I’ve ever had,” White said. “It’s such a simple approach, but it came together great.”

For his chargrilled oysters ($18/half dozen, $34/dozen), pictured, Dunleavy takes a simple approach, too, with oysters grilled in Parmesan, butter and parsley. “There’s no real reason to mess with it,” White said. 

A crawfish po-boy ($15) and entrees like prawns and grits ($27) are also on offer.

The drinks

Mr. White's Cajun Michelada. Credit: Jason Greenspan
Photo Credit: Jason Greenspan

"The beer parameters are South of the Mason-Dixon Line,” White said. That means Abita Amber from Louisiana, Sweet Water IPA from Georgia, a Burial Imperial Stout from North Carolina and more.

The wine list is all French, in an homage to White’s mother’s ancestry. 

The bar is waiting to apply for a liquor license, but in the meantime is serving soju-based cocktails ($12-$14) and a Cajun Michelada ($8), with Cajun spices and an okra garnish (pictured).

The space

Mr. White opens on St. Marks Place on
Photo Credit: Jason Greenspan

Mr. White has three parts: a chef’s counter, “for that foodie experience”; a dining room where “you can expect to bring a date or a little birthday party”; and a bar. “That’s where you might be getting somebody’s number — it’s a little more social,” White said.

The design is meant to evoke a Southern mansion, from the crystal chandelier to the velvet curtains to a wardrobe filled with antique china to the gold accents.

“What we seem to be seeing a lot with Southern food is a barnyard, rustic, country feel — and that’s not what we are,” White said. “It’s a little flashy.”

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