Quick Road Trip

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Road Trip

I'll probably come to rue this, but following a tip from the Levys... by Vic out of Joanna... Jeanne and I found a terrific little dinner spot that's an easy ride from home, has great food, and is moderately priced.

That's the best news... the downside is that they'll be closing for the Winter any weekend now.

Jeanne was in a "I want a great 'burger" mode, and wanted to go to Triangle Pub at the far end of Eastport, so she didn't suspect a thing when we headed West.

As we raised Speonk, I disclosed that I had an alternative plan, a surprise as it were.

Cautiously supportive 'til I slowed to turn onto Depot Road, a cry of protest was quickly stifled when she realized that we weren't returning to The Trolley Barn.

(We had a bad dining experience there shortly after it had re-opened, and deter­mined to red-line the place until it had completed its "shakedown cruise." Per­haps next Spring....)

Our destination was Trackside Cafe, the one-time Speonk train station which operated for decades as, informally, "Cub's," and after Cub Donovan passed on, "Dell's," run as a coffee shop/luncheonette by his widow.

When Vic had told me that it was a restaurant now serving dinner two-three evenings a week, I was incredulous... the building is so small! How many could it actually seat?

"About 20," per proprietor Bob Nidzyn, and it's presently open for a prix fixe "Harvest Dinner" Friday and Saturday only, 5:30-8:30 pm.

(Breakfast and lunch are still served 6:00 am to 3:00pm, seven days a week.)

With only a soft spirits license, the Wine List is simplicity in itself: "red or white."

(The beer selection is marginally more extensive.)

But the four-course prix fixe ($28) was likely the simplest yet most elegant (high-falutin' names) ever offered anywhere in midtown Speonk: one each steak, poultry, and seafood item plus a meatloaf with genuine Long Island mashed potatoes.

It starts with a choice of three soups/bisques and a salad, and ends with coffee and a choice of deserts: several pies and an exotic parfait of chocolate, raspberry sauce and genuine whipt cream... I mean the real stuff!

The decor retains the sense of the railroad that's always been there... except that the paint is fresher... and each table is illuminated with a trainman's lantern.

Appropriate ambiance is provided by LIRR... we hit it just right this evening as two trains passed by, one each direction. The Eastbound one pulled cautiously away from the newer ele­vated platform and was barely discernible. An earlier one from Montauk rumbled through and gave us a sense of being in a Greenwich Vil­lage basement apartment close to the IRT.

Our host, though nowhere near as garrulous as his famed uncle Benny Nidzyn who ran Speonk Liquors for so many years, loves to discuss the history and lore of the area.

And if a diner has anything of interest to con­tribute, he might be rewarded with a $5 dis­count coupon.

Trackside Cafe was a real find, especially for this time of year, and the above cited "rue" would set in if it became too popular... it's fun taking a short drive to such an excellent rest­aurant and not having to fight for a table.

We'll be back!


1. Helen said...

How much did Robby pay you for this writeup... you almost sound like you know Speonk... come on give The Trolly Barn a chance... everyone had to start... and make some mistakes.

Didn't think about this much before you posted it, did you, you silly woman!
  • The sole contribution by "Robby" to that "writeup" was the hosting of an exceptional meal prepared by Chef Tara.
  • Kinda do know Speonk
  • We did give "The Trolly Barn a chance;" two, actually.

    First when we visited the first time, excited that the place had reopened. The meal was mediocre, the service indifferent, the owner even more so.

    The second when I decided not to blog about it... I could have done an entire "writeup" on how disappointing it was... and let them work out the kinks.
But reports from friends as recently as last week are that it still doen't have its act together... face it, Helen, there are some people who just shouldn't be in the restaurant business. Fortunately, "Robby" isn't in that classification.
– Dean

2. Helen said...

Silly me... we've tried The Trolly Barn twice - lately also - and had no problem... but then - I guess there are some people who shouldnt be in certain business... you know what I mean... we're not all experts in cuisine.

No, I don't know what you mean, but it sounds like "sniveling."

Glad you enjoyed your Trolly Barn experience, though.

And since you know the proprietor well enough to call him "Robby," had you tried Trackside Cafe yet? If not, why not? Anything to do with personalities?
– Dean

3. William Rodney said...

...food fight!

4. Speonk said...

Went to the new Trolley Barn twice.

1st time: a $10.00 Hamburger on a dinner roll, no extras... UGH!!!!

2nd time asked for a salad... 2 pieces of lettuce, 3 scrapes off the side of a carrot and 3 small pieces of tomato... $7.00... Disgusting! Owner wants local people, but charges NYC prices. Never eat there.

Mebbe you should get together with Helen... she must have an "in" of some sort there.
– Dean

5. Speonk said...

I wonder how many people remember that The Trolley Barn was an ice cream shop?

It was more like a "stand" than a shop... one of my best friends lived right across the highway from it.

6. Helen said...

Oh yes, and the cake decorating shop was Vickie's ice cream shop.

7. Speonk said...

It was as a bar, long before it was Nino's, Girls, Girls, etc.... the cake decorating shop,that is.

8. Helen said...

Speonk, you have to go back, back in time... that's way after Vickie's lunchonette.

9. Tugboat Bertha said...

Before the place was The Trolley Barn, does anyone remember that it was Red's Clam Bar? Whatever happened to Red anyway?

Also, no one seems to recall that "the cake decorating place" was Cecelia's Flower Shop. Whatever happened to Cecelia? I miss her.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, moves on....

10. Ray Malone said...

This thread reminds me of my (now long gone) favorite place for a "Poor Man's Dinner" (Caesar salad & onion soup: $3.49) Lane & Mickey's Bamboo in Westhampton. Beautiful waitresses, great bar and The Mike Wallen Band to boot! You still drinking white wine spritzers, Dean?

Never did the white wine spritzer thing, Ray... I was always a rum (Mount Gay Eclipse and 2¢ plain) drinker.

Ah, those waitresses, though... I was married to one, and you were playing slap'n'tickle in the sauna with the other!

Or was it the other way around? We wuz a lot youunger then!
– Dean

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