Walking into Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue, it’s clear that whoever chose the restaurant’s moniker has a sense of humor.
Retro, Vintage or Time Capsule Snack Bar would all be more apt titles for a restaurant that still sells lemon meringue pie by the slice and whose sign looks like it could advertise a drive-in movie theater just as well as a diner.
But in a region where visitors are increasingly seeking innovative dining experiences and where a night out can cost more than a car payment, it’s refreshing to visit a place that sticks to the basics and does them so well.
First, let’s talk about the atmosphere. The restaurant, which is owned by brothers Otto and John Wittmeier, was surprisingly three-quarters of the way full on Wednesday afternoon. The patrons there did not give off any air of pretense and not a single person was on their phone while dining (except for me).
The interior decor features carpeted floors, wood-paneled walls, paintings that depict the area’s maritime and agricultural heritage and a bar that looks like it was plucked from a 1950s movie set. Those details are what real estate agents today tout as “mid-century.”
Now, the food.
I’m told Modern Snack Bar is known for their lobster salad and soft shell crabs, both of which several nearby customers ordered; however, I decided to go with the “North Fork” reuben.
Lean corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and special dressing are served on rye bread with cole slaw ($13.95). I saw someone eating a plate of hot french fries perfectly drizzled and I knew I had to order my own plate ($3.95).
The service and pace was a little slow, but it was worth it for a fresh, hot meal.
Usually when you order a reuben from a diner or deli it comes piled high with meat and half of it goes uneaten. But this sandwich had the perfect amount of corned beef. It was greasy, gooey goodness — everything you’d want in a reuben.
If you are looking for a really good, down-home meal in a relaxed setting, this is your spot. What a wonderful thing for the North Fork that this nostalgic eatery has been around in pretty much the same form for 65 years.
Sometimes, you just need a little consistency.