Room With View, Chef With Talent

Having gone through numerous transformations over the last few years, the upstairs restaurant is now a spacious and streamlined place
Whether for a more formal dinner or an informal “gaze, slurp, and sip,” Bay Kitchen Bar offers many reasons to go to the space long occupied by Bostwick’s. Morgan McGivern

Bay Kitchen Bar
39 Gann Road
East Hampton
Lunch and dinner, seven days

     There are few greater pleasures than enjoying a water view, slurping some local oysters and clams, and sipping a light, mineraly Muscadet. Now, how about if that view is one of the prettiest of Three Mile Harbor (at the end of Gann Road), your oysters are a mere $1 each, and your glass of wine is $5? I say gaze and slurp and sip away!

    This lovely happy hour offering is just one of the reasons to go to Bay Kitchen Bar, the latest establishment situated where Andrra resided for two seasons, Boathouse for a few, and Bostwick’s for many. If you’re on the back nine of life, you may even remember Georgette’s in this spot.

    Having gone through numerous transformations over the last few years, the upstairs restaurant is now a spacious and streamlined place, jaunty and nautical with blue and white everywhere, a large outdoor lounge area, and good water views from every seat thanks to large mirrors on the back walls.

    We enjoyed the outdoor area while waiting for our other guests to arrive. The staff was cheery and attentive, taking our drink and oyster orders immediately.

    Upon being seated you get a basket of warm bread and a dish with roasted tomatoes with crumbled feta cheese and chopped parsley, probably a less filling way to begin your meal than butter and/or olive oil, but don’t stuff yourself on it. There are better things to come.

    We couldn’t resist trying one of the house juleps, a blackberry concoction that could have come straight from Louisville, Ky., . . . assuming Louisville also has some creative mixologists. It was properly prepared with a mass of crushed ice and just the right amount of sweetness, bourbon, and mint, served in a julep cup with a metal spoon/straw.

    The oysters were Prince Edward Island, Three Mile Harbor, and Montauk, all delicious, served with a garlicky mignonette and cocktail sauce. From there we moved on to tuna ceviche, crab and fish cakes, charred baby octopus, and baby lettuce, kale, and herb salad. The tuna ceviche was very good and a generous portion. Large diced chunks of tuna were mixed with a bit of crabmeat in a citrusy dressing and garnished with heirloom cherry tomatoes and diced avocado. The crab and fish cakes were also very good, two perfectly sized cakes, well seasoned on a bed of sweet corn salsa. The charred baby octopus was the best of all. It was perfectly charred, giving it a crunchy texture but still tender. There was a hint of Middle Eastern heat to it, and the crispy tentacles were served on top of warm couscous with roasted cherry tomatoes strewn around. The baby lettuce, kale, and herb salad was good, just not crazy good. Maybe it’s too early in the season to expect a variety of herbs, this one had a few chives. The dressing was nice, lightly sweet with local honey.

    For entrees we had the summer vegetable salad, pan-seared fluke, mustard crusted tuna, handmade spaghetti with baby clams, spit-roasted Long Island duck, pan-roasted black bass.

    The spit-roasted duck was, without a doubt, one of the best duck dishes we’ve ever had. It was a huge portion, half a duck, with dark mahogany crisped skin and tender meat. Clearly it had been cooked long, slow, and carefully. Most of the fat had been rendered out and it was served on top of a frisee salad with watercress and bits of lardons.

    The summer vegetable salad was a pretty composition of haricots verts, carrots, peppers, red onion, squash, tomatoes, and feta cheese. It was virtuous and tasty. The pan-seared fluke was delicious and buttery, served on some roasted corn kernels and wilted spinach, and loaded with capers and lemon. Fluke is often overcooked in restaurants, but this was just right.

    The mustard-crusted tuna was also excellent. It was four huge slices, very rare inside, with a crunch coating that again had a hint of Middle Eastern flavors, cumin, and coriander. It was served with lots of heirloom cherry tomatoes, Calamata olives, and haricots verts. The handmade spaghetti with baby clams was another winner, although the guest who ordered it thought the addition of lardons gave it too much of a smoky flavor. The pasta was excellent, big thick strands like the pici of Montepulciano.

    The pan-roasted black bass was very good, served with roasted broccoli rabe, kale, and fingerling potatoes. The side dish we tried, the crisp lemon and thyme potato fries, were outstanding, super crisp on the outside, fluffy inside.

    Considering Bay Kitchen Bar has been open a very short time, it’s a miracle the service was as good as it was. The place filled up throughout our evening there, but every single staff person was cheery, polite, and friendly. They look like they’re enjoying themselves. How refreshing! Our waiter was excellent, knew his stuff, and every lost utensil was replaced promptly.

    Besides the simple and creative bar menu, the wine menu is worthy of mention. It is appropriately heavy on white wines, all the better to enjoy with seafood, and is also very reasonable. The design is also quite fetching, done by Bay Kitchen Bar’s chef-owner, Eric Miller’s, son, Adam.

    The prices at Bay Kitchen Bar are moderate. I would say moderate to expensive if the portions were small, but they are quite generous. Raw bar items, crudos, and ceviches are $12 to $78 ($78 is for the huge raw bar platter that includes lobster), small plates and salads are $12 to $19, entrees are $14 to $39, sides are $6 to $8, and desserts are $10.

    We tried three desserts, and I’m sorry to say only one was really good. We sampled the key lime tart, Greek yogurt panna cotta, and vanilla pound cake hot fudge sundae. The key lime tart is a sight to behold, a big round tart with a pretty mound of French meringue lightly browned on top. It was delicious and tart, but had become weepy, as meringue tends to do, especially when made in a humid environment.

    The Greek yogurt panna cotta was a bit too thick from the gelatin and a tad chalky. The berry sauce was good, though. The vanilla pound cake wasn’t pound cake at all, but was more like angel food cake or a dense meringue. The minor flaw of presentation was an over-enthusiastic dose of confectioner’s sugar all over the plates. Kind of pretty but watch those sleeves!

    There were six of us on our maiden voyage to Bay Kitchen Bar and all of us were happy with our food. I would have loved to have tried the whole belly clams and would go back in a heartbeat for the oyster happy hour and the divine roast duck.

    Eric Miller has been in the restaurant biz a long time and knows his way around local seafood. Bay Kitchen Bar is a fitting venue for his talents . . . and the view ain’t bad either.