THE NEW YORK TIMES

Long Island Dining | Jamesport

At the Inn, Eye-Openers in a Revamped Setting

By JOANNE STARKEY
Published: September 3, 2010

THE Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport caused a stir when it first opened on the North Fork in the summer of 2006. This stylish, refurbished 1863 sea captain’s house was a beauty, and the kitchen of its restaurant, called Jedediah’s, was run by Tom Schaudel, one of the island’s best known and most respected chefs.

Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

The whole fish.

Mr. Schaudel left in 2008, as did his co-chef, Michael Ross; the inn closed in December 2009. It reopened in May with a new co-owner and chef, Keith Luce. The inn’s restaurant is now called Luce & Hawkins.

Mr. Luce, a native of Jamesport, is returning to Long Island with an impressive résumé. Most recently the executive chef at the Herbfarm, outside Seattle, he was a sous-chef in the White House during the first Clinton administration and won a James Beard Foundation award as a Rising Star chef when he was at Spruce restaurant in Chicago (since closed).

Diners familiar with Jedediah’s will notice changes at Luce & Hawkins. The two formal dining areas (the living room and dining room of the house) are now less formal. The white tablecloths are gone; tables are bare with placemats and cloth napkins. A former porch has been enclosed and now has a glass roof and marble tables, cafe chairs and two couches. I think I like this room best, because here you can watch the kitchen staff rushing out to the inn’s large garden for ultra-fresh ingredients.

Keith Luce’s food is an eye-opener. This is not the usual Long Island fare. Take the appetizer called pastrami-cured bluefish mini open-faced Reubens, a tongue-in-cheek rendition of the famous sandwich: three tiny sandwiches with caraway-seeded rye supporting layers of Gruyère, sauerkraut and housemade Russian dressing along with the bluefish. They were tasty bites. Another unusual opener was flatbread topped with Moroccan spices, onions and garlic, paired with a ramekin holding an oven-roasted tomato-eggplant-garlic spread.

The lobster roll, listed with the first-course selections, is a winner. It is perfect as an entree at lunch, when it is served with housemade potato chips. The roll is made with homemade milk bread, an enriched bread with a delicate crumb, which is toasted and filled with a generous amount of lobster salad.

Two sides also made good openers: corn on the cob — two ears cut in half and served dripping with butter — and a dish of two varieties of local beets paired with creamy goat cheese from the Catapano Dairy Farm, all sprinkled with fresh herbs and coarse salt.

The best entree was the whole fish Thai style (black bass when I tried it, more recently fluke). The crispy fish arrived supported on the plate in swimming position with a hot, basil-flecked fish sauce on the side for dipping chunks of the snowy white flesh. We also liked the king salmon atop North Fork succotash (a mix of corn and beans like broad beans, cranberry beans and gigantes). Fried chicken with a Carolina barbecue glaze was also good, served atop a room-temperature salad of red potatoes, corn, tomatoes and sprigs of purslane.

There were a couple of misses. The house-made fettuccine was dry because of too little sauce, and the ordinary artisan pizza (onion, pancetta and peppers the night I tried it) will not give nearby pizzerias much competition.

Every dessert scored. My favorite was the berry, peach and lavender shortcake with lots of whipped cream. The panna cotta was silken, topped with fresh berries and finished with a plum-berry sauce. Other hits were the bittersweet chocolate cake, the five miniature profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream, and the stack of piping-hot doughnut holes sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and teamed with basil ice cream.

The Jedediah Hawkins Inn has been given a new lease on life with the opening of the restaurant Luce & Hawkins.

Luce & Hawkins

400 South Jamesport Avenue

Jamesport

(631) 722-2900

jedediahhawkinsinn.com

DON’T MISS

THE SPACE Lovely 1863 sea captain’s house with a new glassed-in porch. All entrances have at least a step or two. Restrooms are wheelchair accessible.

THE CROWD Couples and small groups; few children. Terrific young waiters.

THE BAR Small marble-topped bar in a separate room with five stools and a few easy chairs. A small parlor can also be used by those having drinks. Wine list of about 200 bottles ($28 to $360) and 7 by the glass ($8 to $16), plus 6 wines on tap, sold by the quarter-liter ($8 to $12), half-liter ($16 to $24) and full liter ($32 to $48).

THE BILL À la carte dinner entrees, $10 (burger) to $29, plus a 42-ounce rib-eye for two for $85. There are numerous choices in the teens. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

WHAT WE LIKED Bluefish Reubens, lobster roll, flatbread appetizer, beets and goat cheese, corn on the cob, whole fish Thai style, salmon, fried chicken, all desserts.

IF YOU GO Dinner: nightly except Tuesday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Lunch: Friday, Saturday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Closed Tuesday. Reservations are essential.

RATINGS Don’t Miss, Worth It, O.K., Don’t Bother.

A version of this review appeared in print on September 5, 2010, on page

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