Todd Jacobs, who put The American Hotel on the Hamptons culinary map before opening acclaimed restaurants in Westhampton Beach and Long Beach, has come back east to take over the soaring space that formerly housed the Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton. The restaurant's spare, rustic interior is mostly unchanged, with recycled barn siding covering the walls and unpainted beams crisscrossing overhead. Roomy booths offer views of the setting sun.
With the name Fresh Hamptons, Jacobs promises something new, and he delivers in a variety of ways. A thriving vegetable garden out front is a preview of the menu, which focuses on produce, lightly handled to allow its freshness to shine. Awaiting a liquor license, the horseshoe bar serves up smoothies, green juices and herb-infused mocktails.
Appetizers such as the chilled vegan soup of the day might scare you into thinking you've stumbled into a college town vegetarian restaurant circa 1973. But the cold kale soup had layers of flavor -- herbaceous, spicy, bitter -- and was deeply satisfying as well as light and refreshing. A barbecued duck spring roll consists of shatteringly crisp phyllo dough leaves encasing smoky Long Island duck and still-crisp vegetables.
There was a bracing salad of kale and hemp seed hearts and a perfectly balanced combination of mesclun, strawberries, blue cheese and walnuts version of s'mores. The brownie in a gluten-free sundae had deep chocolate flavor but was dry and crumbly, perhaps because it had been rewarmed a little too long. A perfect crème brûlée is a reminder of Jacobs' roots in classic French cuisine.