In a nutshell, eat at Almond.
The unofficial bistro du Hamptons has relocated a bit east on Montauk Highway to this vintage corner site, where chef Jason Weiner and maitre d' Eric Lemonides, who opened the original in 2001, have both updated and preserved the place. A decade later, Almond is bigger and better, holding onto its fair prices, keeping its welcoming style.
Now, a grand tin ceiling, subway tiles, little signs for Pernod and Martini, a polished bar and some alfresco seating contribute to a precise, whimsical, comfortable take on the classic theme. So does the holdover, zebra-patterned wallpaper. The inviting cuisine balances French and New American. Likewise, the very professional and equally relaxed approach. Reserve early.
The menu frequently is fine-tuned. Look for the refreshing, shaved baby artichoke salad; and the house-smoked bluefish, accented with dill-spiked yogurt and mini-latkes. Renew your appetite with a silky, lustrous scallop-and-fennel crudo. Try to decide which dish in the eggplant three ways tops the others: caponata, smoked baba ghanoush, croquettes. Enjoy either the pan-roasted Montauk striped bass or the local fluke finished with charred leeks, fennel, pancetta, clams and zesty casino butter. House-made linguine with clams -- outstanding. And consider the house's excellent hanger steak frites, either au poivre or Bordelaise; a juicy hamburger capped with Roquefort cheese; and the tender roast chicken with "garlic crushed potatoes." Delicate chive gnocchi, deluxe macaroni and cheese, and rich polenta-and-mascarpone raviolini head the sides. The chocolate pot de crème, crowned with salted almonds, and the banana cheesecake with toasted almond ice cream are exceptional.
Respectable grilled asparagus with poached egg, house-smoked bacon and Parmesan cheese fonduta; mild, summery chilled avocado-and-cucumber soup with pickled shrimp; diverting Scottish salmon with shrimp curry jus; snappy house-made merguez sausage paired with saffron fingerlings and taggiasca olives; plump, steamed mussels marinière; heavy-duty cheese fries.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everything old is new again.