There are many well-known landmarks on the North Fork of Long Island, but none quite as remarkable as the Modern Snack Bar—you can’t help but notice the bright welcoming sign with its blinking neon lights. Owned and operated by the Wittmeier family, this classic, old school diner has been serving locals and tourists alike since 1950.
At the door we were greeted by John Wittmeier, who chatted with us about his family business, now run by himself and his brother Otto, although his mother can be found there on most days. I could tell how proud he was of the establishment, and we talked about some of his favorite dishes that I’d be trying.
We began our culinary trip with a new addition to the drink menu, something John discovered on his travels called the “Moscow Mule.” It’s made with ginger beer, pear Smirnoff vodka, simple syrup for sweetness and a squeeze of lime. Cool, refreshing and quite modern for an old-fashioned diner, this grown-up gingerale was delicious.
Next we tried a soup special, the Hungarian Mushroom soup. If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this soup. Rich and creamy, with the heady aroma of mushroom that permeates your senses; cut with some fresh dill and dotted with flecks of sweet carrot this soup was warm, comforting and tasty.
The sign out front reads, “The best crabs are here!” So, naturally we needed to test that statement. Having never eaten a soft shell crab before, I was a bit incredulous that you could eat the whole thing. (Yes, the whole thing!) The crabs came out perfectly fried with a very light cornmeal batter, accompanied by a homemade tartar sauce that we proclaimed to be the best we’ve ever had. The crabs themselves—shipped from Maryland—were sweet and crunchy; the sweet part was the delicate meat inside, and the crunchy claws and legs were kind of like thick potato chips, salty and yummy. The sign outside doesn’t lie!
We indulged in some out-of-this-world onion rings that were thick with a crunchy batter, the onions perfectly tender inside. This onion ring beat the ultimate onion ring test—the onion and the batter stayed together!
We also tried the chicken croquettes, a favorite of mine, and I was not disappointed. Crunchy on the outside, moist and full of flavor on the inside these croquettes are a diner staple done right.
An item I didn’t expect to see on this old-fashioned menu was the roasted Long Island Duck. Roasted perfectly, the meat was tender with a bit of smoky flavor. It comes bursting with house made stuffing, the juices from the duck permeating the stuffing to create flavors that are comforting and rich. We tried this with the Modern Snack Bar’s famous mashed turnips, which I found to be surprisingly sweet, with a texture somewhere in between a carrot and a potato.
We also tried the Shepherd’s Pie, which is hands down the best version I’ve ever tried. They don’t just use ground beef in their Shepherd’s Pie—they use bits of prime rib, some that are huge chunks, but it made for the most savory filling I’ve ever had. Filled with corn, carrots, green beans, peas and topped with their “da bomb” mashed potatoes, the Shepherd’s Pie is a must-have next time you go.
You must leave room for dessert, because the Snack Bar has a variety of pies, cakes and legendary milkshakes that need to be sampled. We went for a slice of peach pie, which was heavenly, the peaches so sweet and tender and the crust was flaky and buttery. We also tried a piece of the Limoncello Mascarpone cake, which was super sweet and tart, and melted in my mouth.
It’s not difficult to see why the Modern Snack Bar is a staple on the North Fork, a landmark that so many families frequent on their way through Aquebogue, and a foodie destination for many. Make a memory with your family today!
The Modern Snack Bar, 628 Main Road, Aquebogue. Open Tuesday through Sunday, modernsnackbar.com, 631-722-3655.