Dining à la Française – Almond

(631) 537-5665, almondrestaurant.com

Oh, the Hamptons in the winter. Whether it’s sweeping along 27 sans traffic or the sense of open-space serenity, there is an appeal about the East End in the off season. On the corner of Montauk Hwy and Ocean Rd, Almond claims the throne as one of the Hamptons’ top spots. A spontaneous drive sparks the fire for an eventful night out with your sweetheart. Its original décor and exceptional cuisine set the stage for a creative Parisian night out à la modern stylings. The venue’s large dining space allows for privacy at a table for two. The casual, yet chic, vibe and its vintage details are a perfect combination. Tall glass doors wrap around the restaurant between white subway tiles and red wallpaper featuring zebras that seem to dance behind the diners.

Share any of their traditional and not-so-traditional appetizers, like the warm duck confit salad served with a poached egg, generous pieces of roasted acorn squash and sprinkled pumpkin seeds. Or the absolutely delicious roasted red and yellow beet salad with candied pistachios crushed atop a goat cheese crostini.

One of Almond’s most popular winter dishes is the day boat scallops, served atop a remarkable concoction of butternut squash and vanilla purée, along with sautéed Brussels sprouts, frisée salad, pomegranate seeds and incomparable homemade duck prosciutto. The mouthwatering Le Grande macaroni & cheese is baked right into the serving dish, oozing with cheese, prosciutto and chopped truffles. The crusty top layer is too good to be true. The goat cheese ravioli with caramelized pumpkin slices, apples and sage has flavor bursting with every bite.

Cap off a truly special evening with a made-to-order dessert, adding that special touch as if the restaurant was reserved for the two of you. The warm apple cinnamon crostada is topped with vanilla ice cream, which melts throughout. Whether it’s one of your first anniversaries or you have many under your belt, Valentine’s Day at Almond offers a relaxed dining experience worth the journey out east.

Prime photo by Stephen Lang