Father-and-son duos are not uncommon in the restaurant world. However, finding one that agreed on leaving the summer shade of the Hamptons for the always illuminated Manhattan is a bit more obscure. For the Millers of BKB (321 East 73rd Street; 212-861-1038), the move represents more than just expanding the family business.
Eric Miller, father of Adam, has been a part of several Manhattan kitchens throughout his career, helping show chefs like Scott Conant the ropes. However, after owning Cavo in Astoria for a decade, the chef and his family decided a move out east was in their best interest. Miller opened Bay Kitchen Bar in East Hampton in 2014, and the allure of operating by Gardiners Bay, catering to the pastel-pants and flip-flop crowd, may have been enough, if not for the encouragement of Adam. Though the summer rush of the Hamptons is intense, to say the least, there’s no bigger stage than Manhattan — and no better place to remind New Yorkers local seafood is available year-round.
“I’m so excited and enthusiastic to work with my son. He’s re-energizing me to cook better food and to push to a higher level. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dining room that ran at this level, even though I’ve worked with the best people in the city. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a better team than Adam has assembled, and it’s exciting for me…As a father, to accomplish something like this with your son, that’s what you live for.”
As executive chef, the elder Miller has seen to it that his new outpost focuses on the creatures inhabiting the northeastern Atlantic. The menu offers Montauk pearl oysters and local fluke, as starters; there are also dayboat scallops and grilled sea bass, under the entrees category. A small selection of land-dwellers are mixed in, presumably to show that Long Island isn’t just one endless string of marinas: Local duck is available, not to mention a black angus burger and aged sirloin. Though not side by side as his sous chef, Adam’s presence as the GM is recognizable in the kitchen.
“No one is ever going to want to make his food come out better than I would,” remarked Adam Miller, who isn’t shy about rearranging a plate if it’s not to his liking. Adam’s background as an artist (he attended the Pratt Institute and started an industrial design company) also provides him an eye for aesthetics. “That ability to affect people’s lives, in person and from a distance, was something I wanted to associate myself with. I always wanted to work with him,” noted Adam on the appeal of using the kitchen as his medium. Adam’s background as an artist is noticeable, as the dining room’s clean design and hints of blue help support the focus on seafood. The duo chose the Upper East Side not only because they knew many of their Hamptons customers lived in the neighborhood full time, but because it gave them a chance to help reinvent a neighborhood’s dining profile — and themselves.
The owners assembled a team of rising stars, including beverage director Maura McGuigan, whose career includes stops at Flatiron Lounge and Daniel Boloud’s Cafe Boulud, and sommelier Eric Heine, whose wine list includes carefully selected offerings from notable regions, such as riesling from the Finger Lakes. Lukas Pohl is the pastry chef, and sweets are a big part of the menu. The dessert course offers a trio of crèmes brûlées with flavors like hibiscus and Tahitian vanilla; there’s also a dark chocolate forest bombe with warm salted caramel drizzled on top.
“The only stupid people in the world are the people who think they know everything,” explained Eric Miller. Even the most talented of families know where to call for help.