Peppercorn Cafe is nothing if not cozy. At a wrap-around bar made of unpolished granite and waxed cherry wood, bartenders pour draft beer or cocktails as guests converse and watch football. Just around the corner from the lounge, diners gather around tables draped in white linen that brightens under torrents of natural light by day and softens under the wall sconces by night.
The homey family restaurant is the joint venture of two Long Islanders, and the menu reflects it. Executive Chef Dave Moritz sticks to the founders' North Atlantic roots with a menu filled with unconventional takes on New York seafood favorites. Pot pies, for example, come stuffed with lobster, and the crab cakes are served on cranberry scallion couscous—a break from the traditional method of serving them inside a grizzled sea captain's pipe. Little Neck clams mingle with chorizo on the appetizer menu, creating a segue into the turf portion of the menu, which includes braised beef short ribs and New York strip steak with crumbled gorgonzola.
"Treat folks special." That was the mantra of Country Kitchen's founder, Bill Johnson, a mere teenager with an eighth-grade education when he moved to Cincinnati in the 1930s. But by the end of that decade, both Bill and his aspirations had done a great deal of growing up. With some experience flipping burgers beneath his belt, Bill and a friend opened their own restaurant?Country Kitchen. It was the first time Bill could put his treat-folks-special philosophy into practice as he pleased.
Today, Country Kitchen no longer sells burgers for a nickel apiece. But Bill Johnson's legacy still lives on in friendly customer service at each of the restaurant's locations?they now span the country. And Bill's preference for simple, homestyle grub is still apparent in the menu: pancakes for breakfast, burgers and sandwiches for lunch (or supper), and country-fried steak or roast turkey for dinner.
There's always something going on at Village Idiot Pub, where drink specials abound and live music takes the stage each weekend. A menu of pub grub tempts diners with starters such as lobster wontons and mac 'n' cheese wedges, along with beefy burgers topped with bacon and jalapeños. For finger-licking eats, the pub also prepares chicken wings in 11 sauces, from trademark buffalo to the super-spicy atomic.
Avocados Restaurant is known for its generous portions. Each heaping burrito is piled high with rice, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, as well as a choice of filling such as roasted pork or grilled shrimp. Diners can also opt for fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, and wraps.
As a man who grew up on the river, the grandson of a boat builder, Dick Blakeslee knows all about the sea and its creatures. Blakeslee even owned a former ship store on the river, the Sun DEK Marina, but his dream was always to own a restaurant, so he turned that store into a snack bar, and from there, it continued to grow. Now it's a full-service gourmet steak and seafood restaurant with a full raw bar overflowing with clams, oysters, and shrimp and seafood entrees including broiled salmon and fish tacos.
Situated right on the water, The Oar offers views of boats bobbing, whether you’re seated on the outdoor patio or in the nautical-themed dining room. Its wood paneling, sailboat art, and crisp white linens evoke the decor of a luxury yacht. Even during the wintertime, the riverside eatery brings cheer with views of the annual Christmas boat parade—a heartwarming display of twinkling lights and Santa riding up and down the river at the top of a water-ski pyramid. The tradition, which brings thousands to the river every year, was actually something dreamt up at The Oar 10 years ago.