For a purist, there is little that needs to — or should — be done to a whole grilled fish. Simplicity in its preparation brings forth its natural flavor, with the duty of a chef being to take such a product and do as little as possible to alter it. Preparing for the opening of Anker — a modern, elevated seafood restaurant set back from Greenport Harbor — Green Hill Group partner and executive chef Wolfgang Ban shares how he aims to exemplify all of the beauty of the North Fork, on and off the plate.
Taking a delicate approach to seafood found at local markets, Ban shies away from the traditional preparation of broiled and fried — though the Austrian-born chef doesn’t completely discount fried food, with his signature dish across the street at Green Hill Kitchen being wiener schnitzel. But something new, something different, Anker will highlight whole fish and catches of the day, lightly grilled or steamed, paired with biodynamic and organic farm-fresh ingredients.
“For me, it’s also important that we showcase produce and fruit,” says Ban. “The North Fork puts such an amazing product out. It’s also time we pay more attention to vegetables and take away from meat and animal products. It won’t be a vegetarian restaurant, but we will focus and highlight those dishes.”
The rules of seasonality will help shape Anker’s menu throughout the year. While halibut, striped bass, and black sea bass may be a common expectation, it’s a slightly different catch Ban wishes to serve. The last few weeks have been a chefs’ playground as the culinary team experimented with naturally flavorful fish like porgy, butterfish, and blowfish, a cute little thing he likens to a baby monkfish. “Some people get scared because they have heard about fugu, but it’s such a delicious buttery fish,” he says.
Ban’s execution of simple ingredients is precise. Local oysters with sea water and yuzu air elevate a staple North Fork plate, while creamy and light green asparagus soup with sliced asparagus and ramps focus on local produce with just two seared sea scallops at the center. Entrées include a cod dish; a contrasting presentation of light, white fish and celeriac purée accented by bright green fava beans and hijiki seaweed. For those seeking something a little more familiar from Ban, wiener schnitzel with potato and cucumber. Rather than provide a mere finish to the evening, desserts bring their own experience with naturally sweet options like key lime pie with an almond crust and coconut sorbet.
How wine and food complement one another is critical to the dining experience at all three of Ban’s Greenport-based restaurants, which Ban co-owns with father and son Christoph and Robin Mueller. Green Hill Kitchen’s heartier dishes often call for bold wines, like a Bordeaux or deep merlot, while at Anker something lighter.
“I see more of a finesse, like a nice pinot noir and a beautiful rosé,” says Ban, who also comes from a wine-producing family. “Very elevated, mineral driven white wines. I think that goes very well with the vegetable aspect and seafood aspect. Once the terrace is done, it’s a beautiful place where I can see myself sipping on a nice glass of wine.”
As its opening nears, it’s hard to remember what the space, previously Deep Water Bar and Grille, looked like before. Its bones primarily remain the same with simple yet thoughtful cosmetic changes that have made an impact. White paint instantly brightened the once-dark space. A curved, L-shaped bar in maritime blue is accented by brass fittings and bar stools, with an ombré accent wall, painted by local artist Emma Ballou, of muted waves fading from a similar blue to soft white. Large windows take advantage of the natural light. Upstairs, a new yellow and white awning offers a slight Mediterranean feel as guests can look out over Greenport Harbor while sipping rosé, beer and cocktails. The concept is to let the views do the work in a space that pays homage to maritime history and culture.
“We hope to be a real part of the village that serves the community year-round,” Ban says of all three restaurants. “At the end of the day, it’s the guest that decides what happens, but we have a good idea of where it’s supposed to go.”
Anker opens Memorial Day weekend. Learn more at anker47.com.