New name, new owners, same menu. Walking along Coupeville’s scenic front street, this little restaurant can be easy to miss, but please don’t overlook them, says new owner Chai Saipow.
Tee & Nee Cafe is officially The Lower Loft Eatery as of last Friday, a fitting name for the restaurant which is tucked away underneath Whidbey Isle Yarns, Gifts and Tea.
Before it was Tee & Nee Cafe, the restaurant was Mosquito Fleet Chili, named for the famed passenger boats that traveled to Penn Cove early in the last century.
Chai Saipow and his wife Dao are looking forward to serving good food to the people of Whidbey Island and have been working hard to make the change in ownership go smoothly.
“I’d like people to find us more,” Saipow said, who has been working in the restaurant for the past month to familiarize himself with operations.
Saipow hails from Hawaii, where he joined the Navy in 1997. Now, running The Lower Loft Eatery will be his retirement project. When he’s not busy running the front desk of his new restaurant, in his spare time he likes playing golf.
The Lower Loft Eatery will serve up such dishes as BBQ pulled pork, a tuna salad sandwich and the Penn Cove Mussel Special. The BBQ pulled pork is made using the restaurant’s own dry rub, slow-roasted and served on top of fresh baked bread with BBQ sauce, mayo and cheese.
Salad-lovers will find two options for them: a house salad made with basic ingredients such as romaine, grape tomatoes and carrots, or a tuna salad that includes albacore tuna served on a bed of romaine, fruit, cheese and accompanied by a slab of homemade olive bread.
The restaurant serves pies, including a salmon asparagus quiche. There’s also a ham and eggs farmer’s pie with salsa that’s made with a hashbrown crust and served with fresh black beans.
Soups range from a hand-crafted clam chowder to a chili with homemade cornbread. The tomato basil bisque is homemade and organic, made with a vegetarian base broth. The butternut squash soup is made using fresh local ingredients, white onion and butternut squash.
Can’t choose between a sandwich or a soup? There’s a combo option to combine any half sandwich with any cup of soup, including a classic grilled cheese with tomato soup.
For dessert, there’s a pecan cinnamon roll, slices of pie or a variety of cookie options.
Beverage choices include beers, red wines, white wines and typical non-alcoholic drinks such as soft drinks, lemonade and iced tea.
Saipow acknowledges that Penn Cove mussels are already a well-known dish in the Copueville area, but there’s a twist to the meal that other restaurants don’t offer.
“We have the same mussels as everyone,” he said, “but here they have Thai spices.”
Presentation of the meal is important to them, Dao said.
“Our food is cheap per dollar, but we try to make it look good,” she said. “The price is good compared to the quality.”
“It’s a good place to eat out with the family,” Saipow said. “Come join us.”