Bay Kitchen Bar
38 Gann Rd, East Hampton
631- 329-3663, baykitchenbar.com
A golden sun was sinking beyond the horizon, casting a shimmering reflection on the waters of Three Mile Harbor. We were seated on a second floor perch overlooking the marina. There were seagulls and gliding boats on the bay. Inside, striped navy blue and white upholstery generated a nautical spin to the room while candles in reclaimed mid-century glassware flickered. A fellow diner remarked, “Eating here feels like a vacation.” He was right.
The restaurant that elicited his comment was The Bay Kitchen Bar, the summer’s East End lead off hitter; the first new spot of the season that opened in mid-April. We sat under gleaming white ceiling beams and fans and watched the easy access afforded to diners arriving by car and boat. Complimentary pita and hummus appeared quickly on the paper tablecloth followed by menus appropriately dominated by classics like dayboat sea scallops ($29), Eastern whole belly clams ($18), local striped bass ($28) and mustard-crusted Montauk tuna ($32).
Most starters also reflect the sea-to-table philosophy of executive chef/owner Eric Miller and chef de cuisine Keith Rennie (both veteran chefs were at Madison and Main in Sag Harbor last summer). We sampled a large, charred baby octopus that shared a plate with tomatoes, black olives, basil, couscous and sauce verde ($18), as well as an entrée-size serving of 2 light, porous crab and fish cakes accompanied by a substantial jumble of fluke, scallops, fresh crab and roasted corn and avocado salsa ($16). A considerably smaller portion of Montauk tuna and crab with dabs of avocado, tomato, arugula and lime ($14) also passed muster. Six savory, braised meatballs resting on a base of fava beans and sheep’s milk cheese ($12) proved to be a worthwhile detour from seafood.
The only entrée disappointment was the bland, under-seasoned lobster ravioli ($26) with its tasteless, could-be-anything lobster stuffing. The roasted North Atlantic cod filet surrounded by baby clams on a bed of spring vegetables and cannellini beans ($19) was just a tad over-cooked. But no such problems were encountered with a mountain of tender whole belly clams coated with stone-ground corn flour and escorted by a spritely lemon and herb tartar sauce ($18). Plump, soft, dayboat scallops encircling sweet bean risotto, enlivened by roasted pepper vinaigrette ($29) was another winner.
All but one of the made-on-the-premises desserts ($10) were satisfying. The fluffy key lime tart with its toasted French meringue is a best-of-breed dish while the deep, dense Marquis of chocolate will thrill chocolate lovers. We would have enjoyed the smooth, rich, crème brûlée even more had it not been wrapped in filo, which hardened its surface and made it difficult to eat.
photo by paul kim / thefphoto.com