We're huge fans of Eric Miller's freshly opened Bay Kitchen Bar on Three Mile Harbor at 39 Gann Road in East Hampton. The seafood-to-table fare has created a buzz in the community and definitely revitalized the marina as a destination for upscale dining with a casual flare. Translation: nothing is too fussy but everything is really good! Miller is competing in the upcoming Taste of Two Forks on July 12, at 156 Snake Hollow Road. He opened up to us about the perfect bite, the slow food movement, and the underutilized fish of the Hamptons.
It's pretty exciting that you are competing in Dan's A Taste of Two Forks. How do you plan to win?
I'm probably going to go with 800 clams, and I think I have a grill. I'm not doing oysters, because the shells get brittle. I think we'll come up with an après to put on the little neck clams, maybe an aioli. Our dish will be like that TV show where you win with the perfect bite.
Congratulations on Bay Kitchen Bar. What's the reason for going so big with this restaurant? It truly is a destination-
Geographically, I don't think there's any nicer place in the entire world. We've got a good community that supports the restaurant. We're still working on things, and this is going to be spectacular.
What was the inspiration for the design of the restaurant?
We wanted to keep things sleek and simple. It's elegant, and the goal is to make it feel like a destination, but still accessible. You can come in here wearing a beautiful dress or straight from the gym. The atmosphere is really versatile. We want to drive people here not only for the view, but I want the food to be the star.
What message do you want to communicate to your customers with your menu?
We do simple, Mediterranean-inspired Eastern Shore cuisine. We think it's special.
Fair enough. What are you dying to cook right now?
I'm really liking the local fluke and the black sea bass. These fish are regularly available- it's in the water yesterday and on your plate today. Also, I love the scallops and all the clams and oysters. Really, anything that I can dig up! We deal closely with the fishermen and the middlemen. I mean, it's a process, but the fish we get are really special. So, when I come into the dining room and say, I think you should eat black sea bass, I mean it.
The menu appears to be fixed; do you have plans to do seasonal fare?
Yes, I change the food all of the time. Right now, we have to do it verbally. For example, we're not crazy about the cod, so we switched it out for tilefish. And, striped bass is not running here right now, so I'm using jumbo black sea bass. I make a lot of switches, and the menu has already been changed several times. We do reprint the menu, but we don't do it all of the time. That gets expensive.
In the Hamptons specifically, what ingredients do you think are the most underutilized?
Spearing isn't used too much. It's a little tiny fish that's about half the size of my pinky finger. It's mostly viewed as baitfish, but we like to mix it in with our fritto misto when we get it fresh. My friend calls it, french fries of the sea. Also, the porgy- which is local to this water. Ten years ago, porgy was also baitfish, Now, if I had a bigger kitchen, I'd be doing it whole on the grill. It's got a lot of bones, so you have to be a whole fish eater to enjoy it.
How do you like to prepare your food? What can Bay Kitchen Bar customers expect to see on their plates?
You know, I'm not a biochemist type of a chef. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, so I don't do too much with it. I'm into the slow food movement. I've been that way my entire life, and I just don't like to alter stuff too much.