It’s hard not to compare Todd Jacobs’s new restaurant to what came before it. What was once a temple of sustainable seafood with hundreds of rules is now a family-friendly eatery that Jacobs plans to keep open for lunch and dinner seven days a week year round. The menu is now constructed to appeal to the highest number of diners, and Jacobs wants people to stop by for a smoothie—and pick up a picnic lunch—on their way to the beach.
“I almost got tired of eating my own food,” says Jacobs (shown above), who has spent the past four years as the chef and catering boss at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach. “I like eating fresh food, but it’s hard to find, especially out here, without getting dressed up and spending a lot of money. I want it to be casual and comfortable, simple and straight.”
Most of the idea for the menu, he says, came from regular customers who liked to come in for dinner and ask him to make a meal out of whatever was good and in season. “It was a common thread,” he says, so now diners have a wealth of choices. There are their composed salads, but there’s also a chopped salad bar of sorts. Customers choose their own lettuce among hearts of romaine, mesclun, spinach and arugula. Next they select among fresh vegetables, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, beets and so forth, and then add-ons, like cheese, avocado, fruit and raw nuts, then topping it with a choice of creamy garlic, tahini, balsamic or Dijon vinaigrette. In addition, all entrées are available in small, medium or large, essentially giving diners the choice of a tapas-size dish, an entrée-size dish or eating family style. Those choices include duck, fresh fish, Raleigh’s Poultry Farm organic chicken, short ribs and hanger steak. Vegans and vegetarians are easily accommodated; Jacobs has a page-length list of sides that are available in small and large portions and include roast garlic whipped potatoes, oven roasted roots, hand-cut fries with organic ketchup, naked organic jewel yams steamed and pureed with fresh ginger, and Thai red curried spring vegetables.
This is a homecoming of sorts for Jacobs, who started his career on the East End in 1988 working behind the line at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. What was supposed to be one summer away from the city turned into a life change that was cemented when he opened his first restaurant, Tierra Mar, in Westhampton in 1994.
In the meantime, he started a family, which now numbers a wife and six children of ages ranging from one to 22 years old. (Yes, there are jobs for them at the restaurant.) “My nine-year-old wants to be the hostess,” he says.