Located in a field by the old train station in Cutchogue, the Red Rooster Bistro doesn’t attract accidental tourists. It doesn’t have to.
Once you step inside this cozy, French-style farmhouse, festooned with iconic red roosters, and inhale the aroma of fresh bread and simmering pot roast, you know you’ve happened on a hidden gem.
In the 1930s and ᾽40s, the space at 4805 Depot Lane was known as the Blue Top, where hard-scrabble potato farmers drank away their meager wages.
It was sitting vacant in 2008, when current owner and chef Nick Nikolov saw an opportunity.
As Nikolov, a native of Bulgaria, picked up building materials to repairthe boarded-up tavern, he’d scour markets for quaint touches, particularly antique replicas of roosters, the quintessential symbol of French country dining.
Now grateful foodies gift the roosters to him. Where else on the North Fork can you enjoy escargots bathed in garlic butter, Shopska (“chopped” in Bulgarian) salad accented with creamy feta, chicken cordon bleu in mushroom cream sauce and melt-in-your-mouth crème brulée — all plated on retro-country flatware?
Visitors don’t just become regulars, they turn into die-hard devotees.
“It can be 100 degrees out,” said Nikolov, “and if I don’t have boeuf bourguignon, they get angry.”