Food Seen: Almond Chef Jason Weiner, Sag Harbor Dining & More

Almond chef Jason Weiner
Almond chef Jason Weiner
Doug Young

Meet Almond co-owner and executive chef Jason Weiner, see what’s happening at Sag Harbor restaurants, celebrate World Sake Day and more new and tidbits from the East End “Food Seen.”

Chef Highlight: Jason Weiner, Co-owner/Executive Chef of Almond

Jason Weiner began his culinary career in Manhattan at two noted restaurants: Regine and China Grill. After working on the line in these two hotspots for about four years, Weiner headed to the West Coast, joined one of America’s top chefs, Michael Mina, and opened AQUA in San Francisco. In 1996, he was part of the opening team of Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco as chef de cuisine. After the launch, Weiner spent a summer on the East Coast in the kitchen of one of the Hamptons’ top restaurants, Nick & Toni’s. In 1998, he rejoined Mina’s group and was part of the opening team for AQUA at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. After four years in Vegas, Weiner headed back east to explore the opportunity of opening his own restaurant. In 2001, that dream became a reality and Weiner opened Almond, a French bistro in Bridgehampton, with partner Eric Lemonides. Offering reasonable prices and bold bistro fare, Almond splashed onto the Hamptons restaurant scene with wave of rave reviews.

In the fall of 2008, the team expanded their operation to New York City, opening Almond NYC in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. In late 2010, due to stalled lease negotiations with the owner of the building that housed Almond in Bridgehampton for 10 years, the restaurant closed its doors and reopened in early 2011 at 1 Ocean Road in downtown Bridgehampton. In 2021, Weiner celebrated 20 years at Almond Bridgehampton.

Weiner has appeared at several culinary events throughout his career. He has cooked at the James Beard House five times and has participated in several James Beard House off-premises events, such as Chefs & Champagne. Weiner has been the featured chef for Outstanding in the Field, an open-air feast celebrating local farms and products throughout the country, for the past seven years. He has also been a featured chef for the past several years at a local Hamptons culinary event, the Chefs Dinner at the Hayground School, featuring a number of top East End and Manhattan chefs.

In his kitchens, Weiner is committed to using locally farmed products and local produce to support the community. In fact, 90% of the produce he uses from June through October comes from within a seven-mile radius of the restaurant. He has some farms that supply him with everything from corn, tomatoes, leeks, herbs, baby artichokes and baby root vegetables to microgreens, summer squash, winter squash, berries, peppers, beets and all kinds of salad and braising greens. Another interesting thing Weiner does with local produce while in season is craft ways to keep it fresh year-round. For example, at the end of September, when tomato season is winding down, Weiner buys about 400 pounds of tomatoes from Pike Farm and cans them in half-gallon mason jars to preserve them through the winter.

Also, when Kirby cucumbers are at their peak, Weiner buys about 100 pounds and makes bread and butter pickles, which he then serves with his burgers for the rest of the year. Weiner has partnered with the local Bridgehampton School to source several items from their newly created greenhouse. The greenhouse is built and maintained by students and will provide several varieties of beans — fava beans, cranberry beans, lima beans and soybeans — heirloom tomatoes, squash and braising greens to the restaurant in season.

The Beacon's Lobster rigatoni
The Beacon’s Lobster rigatoniCourtesy The Beacon

What’s happening in Sag Harbor, you ask?

For those on the go, Harbor Market & Kitchen is the perfect stop. The best part? Everything at the market is made in-house by hand! Their open kitchen concept really speaks for the eatery’s transparency when it comes to cooking. Whether you’re in the mood for a waffle breakfast or a wood-oven-baked pizza, you can count on the market to deliver.

 Lil’ Birdie has introduced fast and casual dining to Sag Harbor. With a lively and fun ambiance, the eatery has been making a name for itself with delicious chicken and tasty falafel sandwiches. Everything’s made to order so you’re guaranteed freshness when dining. They even offer rotisserie chicken after 4 p.m. that has been brined for 24 hours!

If you’re hankering for a seafood dinner, drop in to Ed’s Lobster Bar. Located off the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, the restaurant serves all the goods a seafood lover could wish for, from lobster rolls, raw bar items, chowders and fried seafood. Just make sure to bring a card payment with you as the restaurant is a cashless business.

Speaking of fast and affordable takeout, Cilantro’s is another great place for the foodies on the go. You sure get a bang for your buck when ordering from here, as their portions are BIG. Cilantro’s offers all your typical Mexican fare along with specialty items like black bean soup and Mexican chili.

Date night? The Beacon has a phenomenal sunset view to complement your romantic dining experience. Enjoy their $75 two-course sunset menu available for dine-in where you can choose from enticing options like shrimp tacos, pork belly pretzel buns and pork chop Milanese, just to name a few, but get there soon; they close for the season on Columbus Day weekend. (Must order: lobster rigatoni; thank me later.)

Nothing like something sweet to start your day off right. Grindstone Coffee & Donuts caters to the sweet tooth residents of Sag Harbor with their brioche and cake doughnuts which are made with European-style butter and natural flour in a small-batch process that takes up to two days! The intricate method allows for buttery and chewy doughnuts that stand out from the rest. Flavors like lemon poppy, Nutella and maple sea salt are just a few of the yummy options you can choose during your visit.

Oysters on ice at Manna at Lobster Inn
Oysters on ice at Manna at Lobster InnCourtesy Manna at Lobster Inn

Celebrate World Sake Day on Friday, October 1 at Kissaki (670 Montauk Highway, Water Mill ) and O by Kissaki (47 Montauk Highway, East Hampton) with specials that will have you saying, “kanpai.” Kissaki in Water Mill will offer a Grand Cru from the Heiwa Kid series for $30 per flight as well as specially priced Heiwa Kid Junmai for $21 per glass and Tokkuri for $58, in addition to Heiwa Kid Nigori for $20 by the glass or $95 for the bottle, and Heiwa Kid Junmai Daiginjo by the glass for $25 or the bottle for $160. O by Kissaki will pour Brooklyn Kura by the glass for $18 or Tokkuri for $49.

In case you missed the announcement in Dan’s Papers last month, the Montauk Brewing Company is surfing into fall with new beverages. Try their Easy Riser Belgian White, a wheat beer par excellence. Next up, a collaboration with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey brings an Imperial Pumpkin Ale in a 16-ounce can. On October 14, Montauk Brewing will release a special Ocean series for charity with a portion of proceeds benefitting ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. It’s called Pawesome! Later in October, a winter seasonal Cold Day IPA will be available in 6- and 12-packs. This edition of Cold Day is brewed with a very limited hop variety called Strata. Drink up, my friends!

Speaking of Montauk, Tiny Harbor Café on Westlake Drive now serves vegetarian and duck ramen bowls. They offer dinner service from 5–9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and are open for brunch from 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Ramen in Montauk — who woulda thought?

Southampton’s newest waterfront dining spot, Manna at Lobster Inn has launched Happy Hour Sunday through Thursday from 4–6 p.m. During Happy Hour “Buck a Shuck” is offered featuring $1 oysters at the bar or in the lounge area. A variety of drink specials are available, changing daily.

Moby’s in East Hampton now serves lunch and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from noon–3 p.m. They are still open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner at 5 p.m.

Recently, Westhampton Beach welcomed LT Burger. The concept, which has been a rousing success in Sag Harbor, is the brainchild of renowned chef, Laurent Tourondel. Look for shakes, burgers, wings, nachos, salads and sides. It has a prime location at 115 Main Street.

Is outdoor dining here to stay? Believe it or not, this requires permitting and varies from municipality to municipality. Before Gov. Andrew Cuomo left office a month ago, he extended his executive order allowing the use of public space for outdoor dining. Diners like it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the decision makers at the village and town levels keep extending the permitting. Many have approved outdoor dining through the end of the year.

Food Quote: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~ Virginia Woolf

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