Last Monday evening I invited two friends to join me for dinner at Almond. Earlier this year Almond moved to the corner of Montauk Highway and Ocean Road in Bridgehampton. The new site is very open and inviting. The white tile walls, the zebras-on-red wallpapered walls, the bathroom walls covered in foodie books’ pages—it all comes together in a fun mix. Co-owner Eric Lemonides was working the room in his breezy, vivacious fashion, often with champagne and flutes in hand.
I’d been to Almond the week before and swooned over their scallops, so I made a point of ordering them again. [expand]
At 6 p.m. we were the first patrons to arrive, but by 6:45 p.m. the place was packed with happy, lively people. Dinner Companion 1 ordered an iced tea, which she found “crisp, quenching and lightly lemon.” In addition to wines from around the world, Almond’s Wine List includes selections from Channing Daughters, Lieb Family Cellars and Paumanok Vineyards. We passed on wine and went directly to the food.
Our server was very attentive and quick. In fact, we were in and out in record time without any rushing.
Dinner Companion 1 started with the Chicken Liver Crostini. She shared it with Dinner Companion 2, they both liked it. They found that the balsamic reduction tempered the over-the-top richness of the liver while also enhancing its delicate flavor. The mildly pickled vegetables on the side included cucumbers, onion and cauliflower. Dinner Companion 2 ordered the Local Marinated Tomato Salad with greens, basil and white balsamic vinegar. She was impressed both with the local produce, which was at the peak of ripeness and with the simple, but effective preparation.
Dinner Companion 1 couldn’t resist ordering the Poulet Under a Brick over arugula salad with black truffles, beets and radishes. This chicken dish is Monday’s Plat Du Jour, which our server explained is served a little differently every time. This allows Chef Jason Weiner to use the freshest ingredients of the moment and to have some fun. Dinner Companion 1 adored it. At one point she said, “What’s this?” And shoveled a thin, limp vegetable into my mouth. Ooh, it was a delicious slice of radish. Very tender.
I was tempted by the Gravy Fries, but I started with the Eggplant 3 Ways—Caponata on toasted baguette, Smoked Babaganoush and Eggplant Croquettes. Eggplant just about any way is good. In this array my companions agreed that the croquettes stole the show. Crispy on the outside, smooth on the inside, so tasty throughout! The fresh chives on top added a bit of flare. The babaganoush was light and was served on a small round of toasted baguette. I proceeded to the Day Boat Scallops which were served with Pike Farms’ corn and leek ragout, prosciutto and balsamic glazed cipollini onions. The scallops were done just right. A beautifully composed dish accented by that crisp but tender and very flavorful onion. The prosciutto added that bit of salty fattiness that only prosciutto can. I ate the whole thing!
Dinner Companion 2 can be tediously healthy. She ordered the Roasted Chicken with no added butter or oil and accompanied by haricots verts instead of the garlic-crushed potatoes. It was still quite good, tender and juicy. The chicken’s natural sauce and the garlickiness of the tender-crisp beans made the whole flavorful.
Dinner Companion 1 ordered the Chocolate Pot De Crème for dessert. Oh man, a pot of chocolate—ya gotta hand it to the French. She quite enjoyed its bittersweet chocolateness, with the whipped crème fraiche and salted almonds, though she elected not to finish it. (Restraint is so last year.)
Dinner Companion 2 quite enjoyed her Blackberry Crostata without its customary vanilla ice cream (Don’t worry, dear reader, I won’t invite these lame-os out to feast again.) She was given a large steak knife just before the dish arrived…but the crust was in fact tender. It was also very pretty and the berries were not over-sweetened.
I had the Peach and Crème Fraiche Trifle. I wish I could say that this classic mélange of soft textures was perfection. The ginger sponge cake was quite good – but the peaches were a bit over-age, ripe and about to turn.
My guests lingered over coffee for a bit and then we were off while it was still light outside.
Almond, corner of Montauk Highway and Ocean Road, Bridgehampton. 631-537-5665, www.almondrestaurant.com.