In 2001, Jason Weiner and Eric Lemonides, who have been friends since childhood, set out to offer delicious bistro fare at reasonable prices in the Hamptons. Their vision was overwhelmingly accepted by locals, notable names and visitors alike, and this year, Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton turns 15.
Weiner, who serves as Almond’s Co-Owner and Chef, started his culinary journey in Manhattan at two prestigious eateries, Regine and China Grill. From there, he headed to the West Coast to join Michael Mina and debut Aqua in San Francisco. Weiner stayed in San Francisco to be a member of the inaugural Charles Nob Hill team, where he was chef de cuisine. Following the launch, Weiner came to the East Coast to spend a summer in the kitchen of Nick & Toni’s, one of the most highly touted restaurants in the Hamptons. In 1998, he was back with Mina’s group and joined the opening team for Aqua in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He stayed in Vegas for four years, and then returned to the East End with the hopes of opening his own restaurant.
When deciding to open Almond, it was incredibly important to Weiner that the team create a menu that supported the East End community by showcasing locally farmed products and local produce. “We’re just humbled that we’ve stuck around this long,” shared Weiner. “We started with a simple premise: Be Nice to People. I guess people like that.” The restaurant has hosted the likes of Bill Clinton, Usher, Joy Behar, Kelsey Grammer, Rudolph Guiliani and his wife Judith Nathan, Lance Bass, Peter Jennings, Nathan Lane, New York Mets’ Keith Hernandez, T- Boz Watkins of TLC, Bernadette Peters, Kim Cattrall and Chuck Knoblauch.
Diners rave about the Escargot with garlic and Pernod; Roast chicken with garlic crushed potatoes and natural sauce; and the restaurant’s signature dish is Steak Frites served with sauce bordelaise, shallots and marrow. For something sweet, the Chocolate & Almond Pot de Crème is a favorite.
To complement the menu, Co-owner Eric Lemonides consults with multiple cocktail experts to curate a seasonal and progressive cocktail menu. Drinks like Lavender Pear with infused Ford’s gin, Channing Daughter’s Vervino, pear liquor and Amaro and the Old Man and the Sea with Owney’s, blood orange, Ancho Reyes and grapefruit bitters are presented in classic clear glass bottles, adding to the charm of the unique combinations.
In honor of its milestone birthday, Almond is celebrating with a cocktail party on Tuesday, April 12th from 7 to 9 p.m. “The 15th Anniversary party is gonna be a hoot,” Weiner said. Attendees will nosh on hors d’oeuvres that pay homage to the past 15 years and enjoy cocktails. And Almond had a few of its friends, Amber Waves Farm, Southern Wine & Spirits, Channing Daughters Winery and Paumanok Winery, lend a helping hand for the festivities. Proceeds from the evening will support local photographer Eric Striffler, who recently lost his home to a fire. Tickets are $40 in advance at www.eventbrite.com or $50 at the door. “All former employees get in free by the way,” he noted. The bash will also feature a silent auction showcasing locally inspired items and, when the clock strikes 9 p.m., the event turns casual as guests can belt out their favorite tunes during a karaoke party with a cash bar. “And I’m glad, in the process, we’ll be able to do our small part to pitch in for our friend Eric Striffler,” said Weiner.
Almond was originally located on the outskirts of Bridgehampton and moved to its Ocean Road spot in 2011. Along with its Hamptons location, Almond has expanded to Manhattan with Almond NYC in Flatiron and Tribeca and L&W Oyster Co.
Almond is located at One Ocean Road in Bridgehampton. For more information, call 631-537-5665 or visit almondrestaurant.com.