For most Hamptons eateries it would have been a very busy Wednesday in April, but at Bridgehampton hot spot, Almond Bar & Restaurant, it was business as usual. Fabian, who was twice named a Dan’s Best of the Best Waiter in the Hamptons, was our server. Great start. Unfortunately for my dining partner, Chef Bunnii Buglione, Fabian is such a good server that he doesn’t have time to flirt back intensely.
At Fabian’s suggestion I ordered a Honey Negroni of Barr Hill Gin, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and the requisite Campari. It was quite good, not overly sweet despite the “honey” in the name. Bunnii remarked that its smell and taste complemented my perfume that evening. The drink’s color was nearly as red as the beautiful bottle that my Forever Red by Elizabeth Arden perfume sports. Ah, the discoveries to be made by an epicure.
Bunnii was quite pleased with her Lean, Mean & Green cocktail of Appleton Rum, Cynar Artichoke Liqueur and ginger syrup with a lime wedge. She declared it, “delicious and not sweet at all, which is refreshing. It looks kind of like a Long Island Iced Tea, but it’s so much better!”
Bunnii started with Roasted Asparagus with parmesan frico, Aleppo pepper and a North Fork egg, asking that the soy truffle vinaigrette be held—because she is gluten sensitive. The asparagus was tender, the only possible improvement upon nature being a touch of char. Bunnii delighted in the ground celery and cilantro microgreens atop the dish. I ordered the Brussels Sprouts Hot & Cold. Under their thin sheet of cheese, the sprouts delivered every kind of umami. Squeeze some lemon over it and it’s all that a Caesar salad should be—crunchy and luscious with a bit of a bite.
We also ordered Citrus Marinated Olives to share. I’ve been cooking from Hillary Davis’s French cookbooks at home lately and wondering what’s up with adding citrus to olives, which are so great on their own. Should I, or shouldn’t I? Turns out that citrus is a nice touch. Served in a Quilted Crystal jam jar, the olives looked great too.
How much do we love that Almond’s menu mentions East End farmers including Marilee Foster (beans), Holly Browder (eggs) and Art Ludlow (cheese) by first name? Very much.
I was long overdue to try the much-touted Montauk Fishburger. It seemed as though our table’s candle flickered along to the beat of the groovy music playing from overhead as I chomped down. Served on a locally sourced bun with sliced tomato and raw Spanish onion, this burger of local skate and yellow fin tuna and Thimble Islands kelp hits all the marks. Crispy on the outside, smooth and rich on the inside. Served with kim chee made in Almond’s basement and their signature skins-on fries, it was a substantial meal. The kim chee is more about a rolling hit of heat than it is about a “hot-and-run” powerhouse of heat. It should please both the kim chee maven and the kim chee novice. Bunnii ordered the Marinated Hangar Steak Bordelaise with a side of fries—fries covered with melted Gruyere. She commented on the meat, “Amazing. I can cut through it with my fork.” She took a doggie bag of about half of the steak home with her to make a very special Chef Bunnii breakfast the next morning.
Local wineries’ bottles on Almond’s wine list appear in bold for your quaffing pleasure. They include Channing Daughters, Paumanok and Shinn. We’ve been meaning to explore more of Channing Daughters offerings but both Bunnii and I had to drive home, so we restrained ourselves. Bunnii was assured that the Chocolate Pot De Crème is gluten free so she did indulge in that—and raved about its smoked almond-studded fabulousness.
I ordered the Sticky Toffee Date Cake with crème fraîche ice cream. They had me at toffee sauce. Crème fraîche ice cream may be how every meal under Almond’s pressed-tin ceiling should sweetly end—richness on richness.
Almond celebrates its 15th anniversary with a special party on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. All proceeds will benefit local photographer Eric Striffler, who recently lost his home to fire. Almond, 1 Ocean Road, Bridgehampton, 631-537-5665, almondrestaurant.com.