His menu reflects experience gained in wide-ranging restaurants, rather than training received in formal culinary school. Miller was accepted in the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park when he was 16 and arrived in New York two weeks after he graduated from high school, but he left the program after six months of instruction. He'd long ago honed in the skills and techniques offered by the school in Charleston's kitchens. Miller decided the program's cost wasn't worth the benefit.
He faxed his resume to Café Boulud in Palm Beach, Fla., and 45 minutes later, he received a phone call with a job offer. Miller worked for the famously demanding chef de cuisine Zach Bell for 18 months. "If you made a mistake, he would tell you he had a stack of applications this thick," Miller said.
After his time in Florida, Miller moved back to the Kanawha Valley where he ran the Bridge Road Bistro for Chef Robert Wong. Later he went to The Pines Country Club in Morgantown, but found the country club menu uninspiring. The nouvelle world fusion menu at Sargasso, Morgantown's fine dining restaurant on the Waterfront, attracted him. At first, he ran the front of the house, where he gained experience and perspective on that end of the restaurant business. "A lot of what I leaned has helped me in this venture," he said.
He moved into the kitchen, planning and preparing foods that evolved and changed every three months. Late in his three years at Sargasso, his wife, Shonna, who served in the National Guard, was deployed to Kuwait City.
"I attempted to continue to work a 50- to 60-hour week. I handed off my daughter Emma to daycare and sitters. I just couldn't do that any more," he said. Father and daughter moved back to Charleston.
Shonna returned in September. They opened the bistro early in March, an opening they pushed a bit. They still haven't received their liquor license, but patrons may bring their own wine, beer and spirits, and save on a bar tab.
Miller considered buying the site of the former Chinese restaurant that stands of the corner of East Washington and Elizabeth streets on the East End, but settled on the McFarland site. The Millers renovated, painted, tiled and decorated the space in a contemporary design that reflects their own tastes. Coincidentally, three of the paint colors they chose are named for foods: sun-dried tomato, caramelized onion and maple.
Because the space seats only 30, dinner reservations are strongly recommended. They reluctantly turn away customers who arrive without reservations on busy evenings.
"This is just a little bit different from what Charleston's had before," he said. "We provide an experience, not just a meal."
Visit noahseclectic.com or call 304-343-6558 for detailed and current menu. Noah's Eclectic Bistro, 110 McFarland St., is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch on Tuesday through Friday and from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday for dinner.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.