Fresh Hamptons, Bridgehampton

Fresh Hamptons, simply known as “Fresh” is off of Main Street in Bridgehampon. I’ve heard of this restaurant throughout the summer, but never got around to going. Well, I didn’t know what I was missing. Now I do and I’m sure to be back. There were some bumps in the road with the staff along the way, but overall, it was an enjoyable dinner experience.

The food, oh my gosh! The food is local when possible, in season, organic, and “fresh”. The menu is to salivate over if you like raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free choices. Brilliantly, the chef, Todd Jacobs, has incorporated a wide array of seafood, a chicken dish, braised short ribs, steak, and duck into the menu. So, there’s something for everyone.

Let’s start with the decor. I would call it rustic. It has a comfortable feel with an open floor plan arrangement. There are tables to accommodate larger parties at the ready, tables in the middle and across the side wall, and generously sized booths along the back wall. There’s enough space between the tables that you don’t feel you’re on top of the table next to you. I noticed there were no children throughout our three hour meal, but they do provide a children’s menu. The bar is inviting, though I think they overdid it with the Halloween decorations. We were greeted by a nice enough hostess and led to our booth.

The first thing I noticed beyond decor was there seemed to be more staff than diners. A lot of staff was wondering around, seemingly, with not much to do. We sat, we waited… We waited. Then our waiter appeared. A young man from Mexico who shall remain nameless as not to embarrass him. He took our drink order. I was the designated driver, so I ordered a large bottle of Pellegrino with lemon and lime. My friend ordered a specialty margarita called “the smashing pumpkin”, then my other friend ordered a glass of wine. Our drinks took a while to make it to the table. A lovely young woman brought them over and the waiter followed with a bottle of wine. He had removed the foil from the bottle before asking if this was the bottle we ordered. Rookie mistake. When he approached, my friend reminded him she had ordered a glass of wine, not a bottle. His face dropped. Apparently my friend had ordered a glass of wine off the bottles only side of the wine list. She wasn’t about to drink the bottle of wine herself, so asked he take it back and bring her a glass. We took another look at the wine list and saw the bottle the waiter partially opened was $135. We felt terrible, but from the waiter’s face, not as badly as he felt. My other dining partner made up for it somewhat with the $15 specialty margaritas.

We were given printed out menus on clipboards, something different. There were several pages to study, and the menu has been cut down from the in season menu according to Chef Todd. I’m glad we were occupied with the menu as it took a good twenty minutes before another young woman came over with piping hot rolls. But, as with the rest of the meal, the quality and goodness of the food compensated for the slow service. The rolls must have come right out of the oven. They were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. You had your choice of plain or multi-grain. No butter was served. So, we used the rosemary infused olive oil that was on the table for dipping. They also keep balsamic vinegar on the table, but no other condiments or salt or pepper. We were told the specials and continued to peruse the lengthy menu, with joy, may I add.

We finally decided on some small plates to be able to try as many things as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t with a party of ten or so. There was so much on the menu I wanted to try I could hardly contain my excitement. We ordered a Thai dish: Thai green curry summer vegetables with basil, zucchini, eggplant, string beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach, green chili, coconut milk, and Thai basil. The first thing that awakens the senses is the smell. A spicy broth, as Thai curries are known for. The flavor was simple and well balanced. Again, it was spicy. But, the spice didn’t detract from the individual flavors of the vegetables. Next we tried the local, organic, Yukon potatoes roasted with duck cracklings, shallots and dill. The potatoes were very good, and they came with plenty of cracklings which was a treat. I believe a hit of salt would have been helpful. Next was the organic, whole grain red quinoa with local, organic tomatoes and fresh sage. A clean flavor with the tomatoes and sage, lending a burst of fresh flavor to the earthy red quinoa. This was followed by the oven roasted, local, organic butternut squash with Indian madras curry, caramelized onions and fennel pollen. This was my favorite. The squash was served in chunks that were fork tender, seasoned with the madras curry which is simply a spice and not a sauce as people often associate with curry. The squash was sweet and savory at the same time. It was not spicy. The onions were caramelized which added to the depth of flavor. We also ordered the crisp, baked, organic kale chips with olive oil and sea salt. My only complaint, they weren’t evenly seasoned. My first kale chip was super salty, yet I went back for more. Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame on the Travel Channel suggests always trying things twice, two bites, whether you like it or not. So, I went back for another chip. No salt. Hmmm. I suppose I had enough of a lingering salt taste in my mouth to carry over to my second piece. They were nice and crispy, however. Thin and nearly melted in our mouths. Unfortunately, that was the only dish remaining with food on it when we were finished. The main meal, from order to finish, took about two hours. We had a lot of laughs, so, it was well paced for us. But, if I were in a hurry, I would have been frustrated.

Here’s the inexperienced staff part, again. The waiter never asked anyone if they wanted a second drink. We waited patiently and ended up flagging him down. The bartender finally brought the drinks over. We finished the bottle of sparkling water, but was never asked if we’d like another. Flagging down the staff for missing items was a theme to the evening. And, the young woman with the rolls never asked if we wanted another while we were looking over the menu for close to a half hour. We had to ask. After finishing our meal, the food runner, who looked no older that 15-years old, offered us duck and another plate. Wrong table, we told him gently. The one thing we didn’t have to ask for was the dessert menu. The desserts were just as interesting and appetizing as the main menu. We had to order the crème brûlée. Cool, smooth custard with a warm, sugary, semi-burnt top which was, as my friend put it, the best crème brûlée she’s ever had. Then we shared the chocolate crépes with white chocolate mousse filling in a chocolate sauce garnished with fresh mint. For lack of a better expression, OMG! Velvety, thin crépes made of chocolate was genius. The white chocolate filling was slightly cool and refreshing against the chocolate sauce. Unlike my counterparts, I enjoy a little mint with each bite. It made the dessert. I haven’t had a dessert this delicious and well executed since I can remember. It was worth waiting for. Oh yes, the waiter forgot to put in the order for the crépes, but apologized and brought them out fairly quickly. I’m including a picture of the chocolate crépes, but the picture doesn’t express the play on textures and flavors. It’s a sure winner.

There was so much on the menu we were too full to try. So, I’ll go back to try the more hearty dishes like the whole roasted fish and many more. Please look over the menu as it would take forever to describe each dish. The braised short ribs with five spice and merlot wine will likely be on the next order, as well as the Long Island duck. I’m bringing more people next time.

The restaurant offers themed week night specials. Family Night Sundays is a $59 per family dinner package. Serves 2-4 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids. Manly Mondays from 8-10pm at the bar offers a grass fed beef burger or grilled veggie burger and Blue Point draught beer for $10. Taco Tuesdays is served family style and priced at $19 per adult, $10 for children under 12. Wine Down Wednesdays offers any bottle of wine under $100 for half price. World Cuisine Thursdays offers a three course authentic dinner from different parts of the world for $34 per person. I think I may try a Thursday night sometime. Chef Todd is so creative, I look forward to what surprises he has in store.

When we were through with everything, Chef Todd appeared in the dining room and made his way to some of the tables to assess our experience. We expressed our happiness with the meal and menu. He has a humble demeanor and thanked us for our feedback. We decided not to mention the front of the house issues. We didn’t want to take away from what was, overall, a wonderful culinary experience. Shortly after, we were approached by a white-haired woman, dressed in nothing special, who asked us how our dinner was without introducing herself. We couldn’t express our disappointment with the front of the house as we had no idea who she was and left before we could ask her. If she’s the front of the house manager, she has some work to do and she wasn’t present in the dining room until closing. The next time I go, I’ll be sure to seek her out.

We flagged down the waiter for the bill. It was reasonable, save the $15 specialty drinks which I thought was a few dollars overpriced. But, I suppose, that’s where they make a good part of their money. The waiter just needs to learn to build up the check with drinks.

I can definitely see myself going back for more. I recommend this restaurant if you have patience, and don’t mind looking like you’re trying to land a plane on the runway with your arm flailing in the air for the better part of your meal. The food far supersedes the inexperienced staff. Kudos to Chef Todd for bringing his talent, experience, and mouth watering fare to another, hopefully, successful restaurant.

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