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.
The squeals of tires and the cracks of bats reverberate across the grounds of Selden Batting & Grand Prix as fun-seeking guests get their blood pumping. Big kids and adults buckle up in gas-powered Grand Prix carts, whereas kids at least 50 inches tall get behind the wheel of Rookie Karts and those too tiny to drive slip into a double-seater next to Mom or Dad. After a victory lap, groups don helmets at the batting cages to swing at baseballs, softballs, and floating Faberge eggs. Inside the arcade, hands slam pucks at air hockey and shoo away impulsive jazz hands at Dance Dance Revolution, as redemption games challenge gamers to win prizes.
Selden’s ice-cream stand, meanwhile, overflows with more than 85 flavors, as well as rainbow italian ices, chocolate sundaes, and soft serve. Guests celebrating a birthday can make a reservation for an ice-cream-sundae party or other themed event at Selden, replete with games, go-kart rides, pizza, and sundaes.
Tropical Smoothie Café healthifies guests with thick thirst quenchers and savory stomach stuffers from a menu filled with smoothies, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Slurp down 24 ounces of blended berries to preserve valuable neurons with cryogenic freezing methods and indulge in a nourishing treat; the café's smoothies ($4.88–$5.42) are low in fat and made with real fruit and natural sugar. Choose from more than 50 flavors, such as mango magic and rockin' raspberry, a raspberry, strawberry, and banana concoction blended together by the vibrations of killer power chords and drum solos. Create your own mixtures or choose from café-created fruit-, dessert-, and coffee-based smoothies, such as the caffeinated caramel cream, featuring caramel, white chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, and nonfat yogurt. Supplements, such as matcha green tea, weight management, and energizer, can be added to sips to provide the body and tongue with an extra jolt akin to licking a fruit-filled nine-volt battery.
For four decades, Benkert’s Classic Delicatessen has been loading patrons with ample portions from a menu of breakfast eats, salads, sandwiches, and hot-lunch dishes. Customers can jump start their day with two eggs any style ($2.50) while gulping complimentary coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and surfing the free WiFi on a free wireless surfboard. For midday breaks, specialty salad sandwiches cover beds of bread in quilts of egg ($4.25) and shrimp ($6.25) salad. Gourmet wraps and sandwiches ($6.95) include the Fat Tony, packed with six cold cuts, mozzarella, peppers, greens, and vinaigrette, and protected by a hero bun toasted for its noble deeds. Hot sandwiches such as the barbecue chicken ($5.75) are hearty enough to scare away the most intimidating hunger hauntings. Accessorize entrees with sides of mac 'n' cheese ($4.99/lb.) or mozzarella sticks ($3.99), and cross the finish line with a sweet slice of pound cake ($1.95).
At each Tropical Smoothie Cafe location, healthy choices abound with drinks consisting of fresh fruit and snacks loaded with veggies and premium meats and cheeses. The café’s colorful repertoire of smoothies runs the gamut from creamy, dessert-based indulgent creations to light and refreshing low-fat fruit options or frosty drinks boosted with supplements. Strawberries, bananas, and peaches mingle with exotic açaí and goji berries to form mouthwatering concoctions designed to deliver health-boosting antioxidants, essential nutrients and laser-vision-inducing vitamins. Drinks pair with ciabatta and griddled flatbread during breakfast and lunch, as well as with made-to-order salads and a host of wraps and sandwiches.
There’s love in Fanny Cakes: love for baking, love for surprising the tongue, and love for family. As a young girl, chef Kristyn spent long days baking alongside her nana, Fanny. Those hours spent in flour and those moments waiting by the oven planted seeds in Kristyn that sprouted into a passion for baking and, eventually, the start of Fanny Cakes—named in honor of the woman who inspired her. Kristyn now relies on formal culinary training as well as the lessons learned from her nana while she crafts personalized treats for birthday parties, wedding receptions, and everything in between. She pays further homage to her nana as she works by using the sorts of ingredients Fanny loved—sweet creamery butter, belgian chocolate, and natural citrus zests—but finds inventive and eye-catching ways to showcase their flavors.
The fondant-draped tiers of Kristyn's full-size cakes conceal flavorful fillings such as lime curd or coconut custard. Cupcakes also feature inspired combinations, such as strawberry daiquiri with rum-spiked buttercream and snickerdoodle with a dusting of graham crackers and cinnamon sugar. Even with all of these flavors speaking for themselves, Kristyn still commits to presentation, designing cakes shaped like everything from a Gulfstream jet to an electric guitar. She also expands her menu beyond traditional bakery offerings by creating treats such as grown-up cake shots with doses of liqueur and cupcake push pops in plastic cylinders. She even shares her techniques with the public by leading classes that teach students how to decorate cupcakes without covering them in old two-cent stamps.