|Goat Cheese Ravioli with Onions Five Ways and Red Pepper Sauce|
Co-owner Eric Lemonides works the dining room. He is confidently charismatic; the kind of guy you want to like you. Remembering us (or convincingly pretending to remember us) from previous visits to his restaurants over the years, he brought our entrees over himself, greeting me with a warm handshake and my wife with a kiss on the cheek. On the way out, he said goodbye to us by name. These kinds of gestures just make you feel good, particularly in a glamorous place like the Hamptons where some places treat even their repeat customers like an afterthought (or worse, a nuisance), and they really do make you want to return.
|House Cured Salmon|
Linguine with white clam sauce, served on Sundays, is a real standout - one of the best versions of the classic I have had anywhere. The clams are the small variety, cooked perfectly and not at all chewy, although a few remained slightly gritty. The linguine is thick-cut, homemade and cooked perfectly, with significant tooth to it. The sauce is smooth, buttery and not completely traditional, flavored with white wine, basil, tomatoes and a dash of hot pepper.
I was disappointed when Lemonides and his co-owner, chef Jason Weiner, closed Almond's Mexican sister-restaurant Almondito, which had some of the best and most interesting casual fare in the Hamptons. It served terrific fish tacos before they became widespread in New York. It also boasted expensive guacamole, of course, and Mexican salad featuring black beans, corn, avocado and Manchego cheese that I have replicated with some success at home (recipe forthcoming).
|Linguini with White Clam Sauce|
Almond enjoys preparing single ingredients in multiple ways. Goat cheese ravioli is served with onions five ways: shallots, ramps, leeks, pickled onions and cipollini. The pasta is cooked to a true al dente, still with a bite to it, and served with a thick sauce made from red bell peppers.
The atmosphere is bustling with a moderate-high noise level, energetic but tame enough for at least a small party to converse easily. The crowd is mixed, with many fashionable young people dressed for summer, but also with plenty of fashionable older folks dressed for summer. A few outdoor tables for four line the street, partially secluded from traffic by carefully situated foliage. Bridgehampton makes for a delightful stroll before or after dinner. Inside or out, Almond is a fine choice for casual but creative bistro fare in a comfortable setting on a warm summer night.
One Ocean Road
Recommended Dishes: House cured salmon ($14); linguine with clam sauce ($28); goat cheese ravioli ($26).
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