Southern Chef Salute: David Miller
Savant means "smart." That's spot-on for this tiny restaurant in Clearwater, Florida.
For a chef who describes himself as both dyslexic and color-blind, David Miller creates food fit for framing as art at Savant Fine Dining. I'm reluctant to plunge a fork into his breakfast-for-dinner appetizer because it's so lyrical: a savory French toast effusive with flavors of tarragon and duck egg, accompanied by a mini-mound of fingerling and sweet potatoes beneath a full yolk from that prolific duck. I dive happily into this first of six courses parading out of the small strip-mall kitchen where David plates―and samples―every morsel personally.
"They say my food tastes better than it looks," he says. Maybe so. The beauty of the dishes gives way to sensations that pounce on the tongue and make memories there―from a trio of soup (sweet potato, broccoli with Maytag blue cheese, and roasted sweet corn) to the full-bodied braised veal shank (with a little spoon for scooping out the marrow―a divine adventure). It's notable that David opened Savant almost four years ago at age 24, after graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America as a 19-year-old wonder. Zagat Survey has included him on its America's Top Restaurants list, but he's still fairly undiscovered by the rest of us. Let's remedy that.
Savant Fine Dining: 2551 Drew Street, Suite 107, Clearwater, FL 33765; (727) 421-9975. Open by reservation (maximum 30 guests seated per night). Six-course menu, $75; three-course menu, $46. Menu changes monthly.