We zoomed by Almond on our city bikes. Its open patio and red word mark immediately caught our eyes so we promptly returned. It seemed peacefully tucked away from the busy part of the city next to Flatiron.
The patio had such an open feel that some of us entered through it, instead of the door on the side. The wooden deck, planters and plenty of people sipping wine, enhanced the desirability. Their simple red oval wordmark was repeated a few times on the awning. Its’ white hand-written letters had a casual charm, which felt right for this sunny lunch. I would question how well it suits the place later on in the day, when it turns into an evening bar.
As we entered, we were welcomed into a room of white brushed wood and a hostess table that felt like it was part of a film set. A red neon “Billiards” sign was glowing in the corner. The main room was long with the patio opening it up to the street. The transition between interior and exterior was gracefully created by to the floor-to-ceiling railed windows which opened up fully at a 90 degree angle. These windows brought in a lot of fresh air for everyone and served as separators between tables - we though they were ideal.
The rest of the interior included dark wooden floors, deep purple acoustic panels and milky, mute yellow ceiling. There was one accent I thought was well placed - the unique Victorian wallpaper pattern occasionally joining the diverse interior. And, of course, plenty more of that white brushed wood, one which we both thought was a bit too artificial-looking and overly prominent.
Alexander, our waiter, consistently kept the green wine bottles (filled with water) coming. We looked through the beige-paged menus, with red headings and old serif black copy - it had a hint of age to it. We were recommended their Antony's Grandma's Oaxacan Style Tamales dish - the description of it, however, sounded nothing as unique as its name. Either way, our minds were already made up for Madame Croques Gratin and Smoked Bluefish & Cured Salmon Platter. To go with them we ordered an ABC easy blond and Greenport porter ale. We should note, their wine list was lengthy, however they also had some cocktails and some local beers to pick from.
While we waited, a basket of freshly baked tea biscuit arrived at our table. They had a hint of baking soda to them - a smell I really crave. The biscuits came with a side of butter and jam.
Looking beyond the dominating white brushed wood interior (and post a few sips of beer) the atmosphere was lovely. The darker interior would be ideal for lounge/dinner time too. We noticed an area near the back, slightly separated, for what seemed like a private event.
The Smoked Bluefish & Cured Salmon Platter was to come with “traditional condiments”. The two fish fillets were placed on greens, topped with tomatoes and red onion slices, sprinkled with some much needed chives. There was a toasted bagel on the side, and last but not least a home-made cream cheese with a texture of the much beloved crème-frechie – light and foamy. The salmon was lovely – smooth, fresh and silky, and to our surprise not at all salty. The bluefish was denser, however it was well prepared with only subtle hints of the intense fishy flavor giving it a bad rep. Overall, an enjoyable dish if you are in the mood to play around and put it together by yourself. In retrospect, it did not compare to our experience of the Madame Croques Gratin. This lovely dish was served in a small cast iron skillet. It came sealed by a layer of melted Emmental and Gruyere cheeses and topped with chives. It was delicious, we enjoyed sinking our teeth in the juicy bread – like a fresh toast. The side of marinated veggies, really added that extra bit to intrigue the palate. A great choice!
The ABC easy blond was crisp, with slight citrus and floral notes. It was great to enjoy it on the patio and well paired with the Madame Croques Gratin. The Greenport Harbor porter was to be full-bodied, however we both expected more and found it rather watered down. It did have that malty taste as well as the promised hints of cocoa and coffee – a light choice, do not let the description fool you.
We really enjoyed this restaurant. It has an upbeat, young vibe, and also some unique dishes. It is definitely a place to linger in for a bit longer, to really sink into the environment.