Dining out is always a risk. You never know what is going to happen or what you’re going to get…Or how long you’re going to have to wait.
Almond is beautiful. There is no way of telling from the front that the restaurant is that expansive and varied in feelings and décor. We walked all the way from the cozy front, lined with windows, to the very back, next to a billiards room and an area that evoked a library. We passed a skinny bar, a mish of subway tiles and a variety of textures. It was lovely, as lovely as I wished it to be.
Part of it was our fault, perhaps. The four of us sat at the table and studied the wine menu. We could not decide on wine. Picking appetizers and entrees was a breeze, but choosing a bottle of wine was proving impossible. As logical dining guests we asked the server for a little assistance. He was less than helpful; in fact, he practically walked away in the middle of our inquiries. Like, poof.
Finally, after much deliberation and a little eenie-meany-miney-mo, we chose our wine. We received our wine, were given a taste, and were poured glasses before our server was prepared to take our orders. He forgot a pen. He seemed to be very distracted and spread thin. Every time he walked away, we feared he wouldn’t come back, so when we ordered with a rush, hoping not to lose him.
The appetizers came to the table— pretty and just large enough to share. The smoked bluefish served with a giant potato pancake and creamy yogurt sauce, was salty with a barrage of textures from the chewy smoked fish to the crunchy pancake and silky sauce. Cheese Fries Quebecoise was a messy slew of French fries, topped with globby cheese curd, brown gravy, and thick fat bacon. It was addicting and briny, but not amazing.
And then we waited. We waited a long time. Our bottle’s contents vanished and eventually our glasses emptied, and the dishes from our starters were swept away ages ago. The volume fluctuated as other tables quieted while chewing on their entrees or roared as drinks appeared, but we maintained skeptical chatter, waiting.
Finally, after a solid 40 minutes had passed, our gorgeous entrees arrived. Each looked like spring danced on the plant, bringing pastel hues, fresh scents and floral accents.
The almost tender wine-soaked short rib was dark, but lightened by more pink bacon, a scant number of chewy soft gnocchi and a bed of greens, wilted with the heat of the meat. Eight ravioli plump with grainy fava beans and mealy cheese circled each other in the shallow bowl, playing keep away with the discordant mint sauce.
Thursday’s shrimp scampi special was a riot of colors—peachy pink meaty shrimp, green and eggplant floral garnish, bright read grape tomatoes and the warm yellow of yolky pasta—with a lightness that was refreshing and mildly satiating. The delicate crab and uni butter pasta emitted a hum of nonchalant flavors except the occasional prick of chili flakes and the crunch of pretty white flowers, but little else.
Despite the stunning presentation of each dish, the luxury of the ingredients and the ove zealous use of edible flowers, the food was a let down. Flavors did not always add up and the portions weren’t worth for the price.
And the wait for our food and service even was unacceptable. Unfortunately, I do not remember much other than waiting and being disappointed. I wanted to love Almond with its sexy menu, beautiful venue and my high expectations… but like I said, dining out is always a risk.