If anything is true about the current state of dining life, it is that it is unpredictable. During the past few weeks of upheaval out here on the East End, Almond Bridgehampton, the restaurant stalwart owned and operated by Eric Lemonides and Jason Weiner, has provided takeout and limited delivery — available in Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, and Wainscott — Monday through Saturday from 5 to 9 PM.
The menu was comprehensive, and displayed, as the duo always does, a respectful showcase of local protein and produce. And don’t forget cocktails. And discounted wine — at a staggering 50 percent off! But on Saturday, March 28, both Weiner and Lemonides posted on Instagram that Almond would be closing their outfit temporarily. “This will be our last night doing takeout and delivery,” the post said. “Can’t wait to see everyone when we reopen later this spring.”
The post did not mention the reason for the restaurant’s close, although it could have been cost, or staffing, or a mix of the two. Keeping a restaurant fully functional for delivery and takeout only, when restaurants run on slim margins as it is — margins that depend on alcohol revenue and other negligibles — is probably impossible, and it’s likely that we will see more closures as time goes on. The other question hangs heavy in the air. What will “reopen” mean? We don’t know when the stay-at-home order will end, or when life will return to normal. When Almond reopens — and it will! — will it be for takeout, or can we hope against hope that spring will bring dining back to the East End?
Some better news comes in the form of L&W Market, the duo’s younger venture, which also happens to be next door to Almond. L&W opened three summers ago, and sells everything from coffee to pastries to prepared foods. When it first opened, it had broad hours and was open daily. Over time, those hours were pared down, to account for dwindling crowds and cost-effectiveness. But these days, markets are ever in-demand. Lemonides is savvy to the needs and wants of East End consumers.
He has added delicious things that he promotes on Instagram (hello, soft pretzel with an egg in it, which I may have seen on his Instagram, or on someone else’s, but I don’t even care, because I need it in my life). He has also added coveted items, like toilet paper, which he is providing as a service to the community — and no, you can’t buy the whole lot. #dontbeajerk
With that in mind, L&W has now returned to a seven-day schedule, open from 8 AM to 6 PM. There is an app, which, in the days of social distancing, is useful in order-placing and crowd-thinning. You can order brownies, ham and Gruyere croissants, Bento box chicken salads, Korean fried chicken sandwiches, CBD cherry sodas, oven-ready macaroni and cheese, adobo paste, Tate’s cookies, and, yes, toilet paper from the safety of your car, house, or socially distant park bench outside.
The store also has food by the pound: sesame scallion noodles, chicken fried rice, chickpea salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, tuna-stuffed peppers, roasted broccoli, citrus-cured olives, artichoke, eggplant, roasted russet potatoes, chickpea kale salad, snap pea salad, and more. Most of these foods are perfect, say, for keeping in your house if you’re intending on sticking around and snacking for a while. Looking to curate an easily snackable fridge? L&W more than has you covered.
Cooking is not — and I say this, emphatically, as a home cook — for everyone. To that end, the non-cooks of this world will continue to find cool and creative avenues to avoid cooking, and that’s cool, too. The good news is that the L&Ws of the East End are here to make sure that you are well stocked for any and all circumstances. Even your powder room will be happy you stopped by.