The raw roll from Fresh, Todd Jacob’s new restaurant on the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike.
By Ellen Frankman
Set atop a low knoll at a distance from the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike is Fresh, chef Todd Jacob’s latest culinary endeavor housed in the space of the former Southfork Kitchen.
Fresh maintains much of the rustic charm established by Jacob’s predecessor, with rough wide-plank wood floors, an exposed steel beam and soft light filtering in through the dark paned windows.
“When I walked into this place — I can’t take any credit for the beautiful room we’re sitting in — but I walked in said this is where I want to be,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs is newly resettled on the East End, after returning from a brief stint in Long Beach where he worked as the chef for the newly constructed Allegria Hotel. But Jacobs has a long and well-respected reputation on the East End. He got his start here working at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor and eventually opened a place of his own, Tierra Mar, in Westhampton in 1994.
Jacobs says Fresh is a return to his roots, but the food has a decidedly modern twist perfectly attuned to the gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian palettes that have increasingly become the norm, particularly for Hamptons vacationers. On any given night, the menu is sprinkled with quinoa, tofu and lots and lots of vegetables.
“For me and my family, we eat raw vegan during the day and then anything we want at night,” said Jacobs. “I wanted this restaurant to be different. Offering choices of sizes on the proteins it affords people the option to eat exactly the way they want. For me and my family that would mean eating more of the vegetables and smaller portions of proteins.”
Sides include local organic fava beans and green cabbage, a smattering of oven roasted root vegetables, and local wild organic spinach sautéed with garlic. But the entrees are grounded in more serious protein for those who need more than legumes to satisfy them. There’s pan seared porgy and all natural boneless beef short ribs.
Jacobs says that in the 30 years he has been cooking, his food has evolved to be lighter, but maintains a strong emphasis on local produce that is organic when possible. The majority of his produce comes from Bette and Dale’s Under the Willow farm in Sag Harbor, whom he has been working with since the 80s. Jacobs also sources from Briermere Farms, David Falkowski for mushrooms and Quail Hill, Sang Lee and Satur Farms.
“I buy fish directly from a few fishing boats, and chickens, ducks and turkeys come from Raleigh’s Farm in Kings Park,” said Jacobs. Pork and hamburger meat comes from Mecox Bay Dairy, he added.
“The food I’m doing here, I present it differently but it is really very similar to food I’ve been making for the past 25 years,” said Jacobs. “A lot of people have realized they don’t need all of that extra stuff that comes in boxes.”
Jacobs says the spinach salad with grilled Portobello mushrooms and shaved parmesan is something he developed specially for the restaurant that’s already been a favorite of customers.
“People swear there is bacon in the dressing and there isn’t,” said Jacobs. The secret ingredient is a smoked and grilled red onion that goes into the vinaigrette.
“And the raw vegan summer roll is something I could eat every day,” said Jacobs. “I probably do.”
Jacobs hopes to keep the restaurant open year round, and has his eye set on the kitchen for a few renovations this winter. But he’s off to a good start. Reception from both local and seasonal guests has been great, he said, and he already has vegetarians who are eating at the restaurant three and four times a week.
“That kind of drives you,” said Jacobs. “I’ve been working 14 hours a day seven days a week since April, but it really motivates me to keep going.”
Fresh is located at 203 Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information or to make a reservation, call 537-4700 or visit freshhamptons.com.